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Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) began 

to build his national reputation as a speaker and essayist on 
politics and government. His election to the presidency of 
Princeton University in 1902 climaxed a distinguished aca¬ 
demic career. In 1910 he was elected Governor of New Jersey 
and in 1912 he became the twenty-eighth President of the 
United States. During his two terms as President, Congress 
adopted the Federal Reserve Act, the Clayton Anti-Trust Act, 
and other progressive measures. Wilson also exerted a strong 
personal influence on international affairs; it was primarily 
because of his leadership that the League of Nations was es¬ 
tablished by the Versailles Treaty in 1919. 


William E. Leuchtenburg, Professor of History at 
Columbia University, has taught at New York University, 
Smith College, Harvard University, and at the Salzburg Semi¬ 
nar for American Studies. He is the author of Flood Control 
Politics and The Perils of Prosperity, 1914-32 and is a Fellow, 
1961-62, of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral 
Sciences, Stanford, California. 


The New Freedom 

A Call for the Emancipation 
of the Generous Energies 
of a People 

Woodrow Wilson 


With an Introduction and Notes 
by WILLIAM E. LEUCHTENBURG 


/SS 

A SPECTRUM BOOK 

Prentice-Hall, Inc. 

Englewood Cliffs, N. J* 


? ?s. ?j - 

l’J7r^ 

'v' 


© 1961, BY 

PRENTICE-HALL, INC. 
Englewood Cliffs, N. J. 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO PAST OF THIS BOOK MAY 
BE REPRODUCED IN ANY FORM, BY MIMEOGRAPH 
OR ANY OTHER MEANS, WITHOUT PERMISSION IN 
WRITING FROM THE F0BU5HERS. 

Library of Congress 

Catalog Card No.: 61-14157 

Current printing past digit): 

11 10 98765432 


PRINTED IN THE UNIT® STATES OF AMERICA 


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Editors’ Note 


This book is a volume in the Classics in 
History Series of works in American history. The 
titles in the series have been chosen primarily from 
familiar works that are not easily accessible. In some 
cases we have also chosen to reprint once influential 
books that still have intrinsic interest or to create 
fresh collections of essays or letters that now exist 
only in scattered or expensive editions. 

William E. Leuchtenburg 
Bernard Wishy 


ua 

m 


o 


r::;r 

CJUl-IESi! O.TW* OF TEGHNOLOflt 



A Note About This Edition 


The New Freedom first appeared serially in World's Work 
from January to July, 1913- That same year. Doubleday, Page 
brought it out in book form. William Bayard Hale, a clergyman 
turned journalist, who was a member of the magazine's staff, had 
been asked, through Walter Hines Page, to prepare the official 
campaign biography, Woodrow Wilson: The Story of His Life. 
After the campaign, Hale put together The New Freedom , chiefly a 
collection of extracts from Wilson's 1912 campaign addresses. He 
included about a quarter of Wilson's 1912 speeches, but also added 
material from other Wilson addresses. 

When Wilson took office, he thought well enough of Hale 
to send him as his confidential agent to Mexico. But Wilson and 
Hale's friendship quickly cooled, after Hale accepted employment 
as an adviser for German propaganda. In 1920, Hale published a 
slashing attack on Wilson's pretensions as a stylist. The Story of a 
Style. 

Scholars who wish to read in full Wilson's 1912 campaign 
addresses may turn to John Wells Davidson's admirable edition, 
A Crossroads of Freedom (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1956). 
Davidson has made excellent use of shorthand notes of Wilson's 
speeches taken down by Charles Swem, and has presented a care¬ 
fully annotated record of his addresses. 

I am deeply indebted to Mrs. Woodrow Wilson for grant¬ 
ing me permission to edit this new edition of The New Freedom. 

W. E. L. 


IX 



Table of Contents 


INTRODUCTION 

Woodrow Wilson and The New Freedom, 1 

1 

The Old Order Changeth, 19 

2 

What Is Progress?, 35 

3 

Freemen Need No Guardians^ 47 

4 

Life Comes from the Soil, 59 

5 

The Parliament of the People, 65 


xi 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 


6 

Let There Be Light, 75 

1 


The Tariff: 

“Protection,” or Special Privilege?, 87 


8 

Monopoly, or Opportunity?, 101 

9 

Benevolence, or Justice?, 117 

10 

The Way to Resume Is to Resume, 133 


11 

The Emancipation of Business, 151 


12 


The Liberation of a People's Vital Energies, 161 


Xll 



INTRODUCTION 

Woodrow Wilson and The Mew Freedom 


Everyone knows that Woodrow Wilson’s The New Freedom is 
one of the classics of American liberalism. Yet one of the most curious 
aspects of the recent celebration of the centennial of Woodrow Wilson’s 
birth was that it was conservatives like Herbert Hoover and Russell 
Kirk who claimed him as one of their own while modern liberals seemed 
almost embarrassed by the occasion. For the past generation, historians 
and publicists have debated whether Wilson, the leader of reform forces 
in the second decade of this century, was not, in fact, a conservative. 
In his notable essay on Wilson, Richard Hofstadter caught the paradox 
in his title: “Woodrow Wilson: the Conservative as liberal.” 

Of course, the attempt to categorize a man as either a 
“liberal” or a “conservative” can easily degenerate into a foolish, kind 
of taxonomy, as the recent literature of the “new conservatism 5 ’ has 
made painfully clear. Yet the quarrel over the nature of Wilson’s 
political beliefs is a real issue and not a contrived one. If it perplexes 
historians today, it was no less troublesome to his contemporaries. For 
the Wilson who led the crusade for the New Freedom in 1912 had 
begun his political career only two years before in the camp of the 
conservatives, and his apparent conversion in so short a time astonished 
the progressives no less than the conservatives. 

Almost all of Wilson’s early allegiances and writings bore the 
stamp of conservatism. A Democrat, he had little but contempt for 
William Jennings Bryan; in 1896 he bolted his party to support the 

i 


INTRODUCTION 


Gold Democrat ticket. As late as 1907, he bad written, in a letter t*xa.t: 
was later to cause him some trouble: “Would that wo could do smrxo— 
thing at once dignified and effective to knock Mr. Bryan once f Qr 
all into a cocked hat!” He showed no sympathy toward the demands 
of farmers and workers for change. He wrote of “the crude and ignoratnt 
minds of the members of the Farmers Alliance.” In 1905, lie com¬ 
plained that “labor unions reward the shiftless and incompetent at tbto 
expense of the able and industrious.” He lamented that the country 
was growing “more and more full of unprofitable servants.” In 190S>, 
only three years before his Presidential campaign for the “New 
Freedom,” he wrote: “I am a fierce partizan of the Open Shop and of 
everything that makes for individual liberty.” His letters and his his¬ 
torical writings both reflect distrust of popular uprisings. A Virginia 
Democrat, he nonetheless admired the Federalists and viewed the 
French Revolution with dismay. If he had lived during the American 
Revolution, he once confessed, he might have been a Tory. 

When he entered politics in 1910, he was sponsored by the most 
conservative elements in the Democratic Party: the reactionary New 
York editor and financier George Harvey and his business allies-—as 
Harvey described them, “steady-going bankers, Democrats who have 
been voting the Republican ticket.” Harvey secured him the Demo¬ 
cratic nomination for Governor of New Jersey in 1910 by interceding 
with the conservative Essex County boss, James Smith, Jr., and Wilson 
won the no mina tion only over the strenuous protests of reformers in 
the state. “There is no denial of the fact,” declared the Hudson Observer , 
“that Dr. Wilson was induced to enter the race by a combination, of 
the very elements which the Progressives are fighting.” 

Yet once he had won the nomination, Wilson underwent a remark¬ 
able metamorphosis. Challenged by progressives in the state, he de¬ 
clared his independence of Boss Smith and announced his support of 
one after another of the reforms the insurgents were espousing. In a 
“confession of faith” delivered in Newark in September 1910, he stated 
his hostility to irresponsible corporations, and his belief in government 
regulation and the direct election of Senators, Later in the campaign, 

2 




INTRODUCTION 


he came out for the direct primary, a stringent corrupt-practices law, 
and a public utility commission with rate-fixing powers. He said he 
would deem himself “forever disgraced” if he in any way cooperated 
with bossism. “I regard myself,” he proclaimed, “as pledged to the 
regeneration of the Democratic party.” 

By the time of the 1912 Democratic convention, Wilson had broken 
with both Smith and Harvey and gone over completely to the progres¬ 
sives. He had come to denounce the “money trust” in language that 
seemed more appropriate to Bryan; had deliberately cultivated the 
Nebraskan’s political support; and had directed some well-aimed 
shafts at Wall Street domination of the economy. Harvey, who had 
spent years building up Wilson as the candidate of the conservatives, 
wrote ruefully to the rising Texas Democrat, Colonel House: “Every¬ 
body south of Canal Street was in a frenzy against Wilson.” When 
Wilson won the Democratic nomination on the forty-sixth ballot at 
Baltimore, he triumphed as a candidate of the progressive wing of the 
party. 

Few men had ever been nominated for the presidency who had a 
better prospect for victory. The Republican Party, badly divided for 
years, had finally split apart. After the Republicans had renominated 
William Howard Taft, scores of delegates had bolted the G.O.P. con¬ 
vention in order to create a new third party. In August, at a convention 
suffused with evangelical fervor, the Progressive Party chose Theodore 
Roosevelt as its candidate for president. With the Republican forces 
split, Wilson seemed almost certain to win. Yet, in a year where party 
lines were broken and people were searching for new means of political 
expression, who could say for sure what the outcome of the campaign 
would be? No one recognized his liabilities better than Wilson himself. 
Roosevelt, he wrote, “appeals to their imagination; I do not. He is a 
real, vivid person, whom they have seen and shouted themselves hoarse 
over and voted for, millions strong; I am a vague, conjectural person¬ 
ality, more made up of opinions and academic prepossessions than of 
human traits and red corpuscles.” 

Moreover, the old Rough Rider could stump the country as the 

3 



INTRODUCTION 


advocate of an attractive political program, His “New Nationalism” 
marked a sharp departure in the direction of American reform, in 
place of the Jeffersonian suspicion of a centralized stale, Roosevelt 
favored a strong central government headed by a Chief Executive 
who would act as steward of the national interest, in place; of the 
nineteenth-century faith in competition, Roosevelt proposed to accept, 
the concentration of industry not only as natural but as beneficial. 
Instead of breaking up the trusts, he would permit them to develop 
but subject them to government regulation. In place of the Jeffersonian 
emphasis on equality and natural rights, he implied the recognition of 
a permanent employee class and recommended that the government 
confer special benefits on disadvantaged groups. The Progressive 
Party’s social welfare planks, drafted by the social workers Jane 
Addams, Florence Kelley, and Paul Kellogg, provided the scaffolding 
for the twentieth-century welfare state. 

In the summer of 1912, Woodrow Wilson was a candidate in search 
of a program. The direction of Wilson’s thought was clear; the content 
was not. In the early months of the 1912 campaign, Wilson had placed 
his chief stress on the need for tariff reform, but he could not arouse 
much excitement over that tired old issue. He sensed that he might 
find the program he wanted in the popular uneasiness about monopoly, 
but he did not know quite how to go about it. He had, in years past, 
fired some salvos at the trusts, but he had been distressingly unclear 
about what he proposed to do about them. He had recommended dis¬ 
ciplining not the corporations but individual businessmen, who would 
have to be ferreted out of the corridors of corporate anonymity, but 
no one thought very much of this proposal. In short, he had found 
litde constructive to say, and he had not been able to identify himself 
m any dramatic way with the trust issue. This was the situation when 
on August 18,1912, at Sea Girt, New Jersey, Wilson and the brilliant 
Boston attorney, Louis Brandeis, met for the first time. In a single 
afternoon, Brandeis persuaded Wilson to base his campaign on the 
trust question. Wilson, Brandeis urged, should mark out a course 
sharply different from Roosevelt’s by proposing that the government 

4 


INTRODUCTION 


regulate not monopoly but competition. Like a teacher working with 
a promising pupil, Brandeis schooled Wilson in the precise tools the 
government could use to restore competition. 

Brandeis, who had won a national reputation as a foe of monopoly 
in his war with the New Haven Railroad, contended that the trusts 
were too large to be efficient. They had been put together by financial 
manipulation with the aid or acquiescence of benign governments. To 
win special privileges, they had corrupted government. Once they had 
massed their power, they had used it to control credit and markets, to 
ward off competition from smaller, more efficient businesses, and to 
enrich themselves with excessive profits based on overcapitalization. 
Brandeis wanted to use government to prosecute existing concentra¬ 
tions of power, to enforce the rules of competition in the future, and to 
extend credit facilities to new entrepreneurs. 

If Brandeis supplied him with the special knowledge he needed, 
Wilson’s success in turning the trust issue into a crusade to preserve 
fundamental liberties was wholly his own achievement. Woodrow 
W T ilson, as August Heckscher has remarked, was an unusual kind of 
political leader who led “through the power of style and more particu¬ 
larly through style in oratory.” From the very beginning, Wilson felt 
that every significant political achievement resulted from the leader¬ 
ship of an inspired statesman who had found the precise words to move 
men. He was often less interested in finding the solution to a problem 
than the right language. Throughout his life, Wilson relied on the 
power of words as a political weapon to advance his career and the 
causes with which he was identified. 

As a young man, Wilson aimed not for the presidency but for the 
Senate, for he went to college at a time when Congress held the reins 
of power. He fancied himself a member of Parliament, and he fastened 
his attention not on the work of government, but on the great debates 
in the House of Commons. Part of his vexation with the clandestine 
co mm ittee system came from a conviction that it was orators who 
moved men to act, and an awareness that his own strength lay in 
oratorical prowess. As a Princeton senior, he entered into “a solemn 

5 


INTRODUCTION 


covenant” with a classmate in which, as he later explained, it was 
agreed “that we would drill ourselves in all the arts of persuasion, but 
especially in oratory . . . that we might have facility in leading others 
into our ways of thi nk i n g and enlisting them in our purposes.” His long 
years as a teacher and scholar were years of fretful waiting and prepa¬ 
ration for his true vocation as a political leader. In 1909, a year before 
he was to win election to the governorship, Wilson cried: “I wish there 
were some great orator who could go about and make men drunk with 
this spirit of self-sacrifice . . . whose tongue might every day carry 
abroad the golden accents of that creative age in which we were born 
a nation.” 

In the 1912 campaign, Wilson transmuted the trust question into “a 
second struggle for emancipation.” At stake were no longer pecuniary 
matters like markets and profits but the eternal truths by which men 
live. \\ llson identified the plight of the man seeking enough capital to 
start a small business with the ageless struggle of men for liberty. “Are 
you not eager for the time when the genius and initiative of all the 
people shall be called into the .service of business? when newcomers 
with new ideas, new entries with new enthusiasm, independent men, 
shall be welcomed? when your sons shall be able to look forward to 
becoming, not employees, but heads of some small, it may be, but 
hopefai, business, where their best energies shall be inspired by the 
knowledge that they are their own masters, with the paths of the world 
open before them?” Wilson asked. “Surely you must feel the inspira¬ 
tion of such a new dawn of liberty.” 

To express the meaning of opening up opportunities to the new 
entrepreneur, Wilson used the symbolism of Eastertide, of renewal and 
resurrection. Society was to be renewed by the “constant rise of the 
sap from the bottom, from the rank and file of the great body of the 
people.” “A people shall be saved,” Wilson wrote, “by waters welling 
up from lis own sweet, perennial springs. Not from above; not by 
patronage of its aristocrats. The flower does not bear the root, but the 
root the flower. Everything that blooms in beauty in the air of heaven 
draws its fafrness, its vigor, from its roots. ... Up from the soil, up 

6 




INTRODUCTION 


from the silent bosoms of the earth, rise the currents of life and energy. 
Up from the common soil, up from the quiet heart of the people, rise 
joyously today streams of hope and determination bound to renew the 
face of the earth in glory. 55 

Wilson had an unusual capacity for making mundane issues seem 
like moral questions of transcendent importance. Some men regarded 
this gift as a blessing, others as an annoyance. He could make men see 
the spiritual possibilities of matters to which they had been blind be¬ 
fore, but he could also make of political issues more than was actually 
there. Even the short ballot could be made to seem an evidence of 
Divine Providence. “His mind, 55 a contemporary critic remarked, “is 
like a light which destroys the outlines of what it plays upon; there is 
much illumination, but you see very little. 55 He gave to the trust ques¬ 
tion in 1912 a spirit of elevated thought and action men had rarely 
heard before, but he left both many of his contemporaries and two 
generations of historians bewildered about precisely what he did pro¬ 
pose to do about the trusts. 

It is sometimes said that the distinction between the New National¬ 
ism and the New Freedom is that Roosevelt wanted to permit the 
trusts to grow, and regulate them, while Wilson wanted to break them 
up. This would be a logical distinction, but it does not seem to be an 
accurate one. Much of Wilson’s rhetoric makes little sense unless one 
supposes he was advocating the dissolution of the trusts, yet on more 
than one occasion he made clear that he did not favor dismemberment. 
In 1912, Wilson declared: “I am not one of those who think that com¬ 
petition can be established by law against the drift of a world-wide 
economic tendency. 55 If his faith in competition drove him in the direc¬ 
tion of dissecting the trusts, his organic conception of society restrained 
him. Deeply influenced by Burke and Bagehot, he viewed society as the 
product of slow growth. He would not “tear up ancient rootages 55 and 
he understood that “you cannot make a tabula rasa upon which to write 
a political program. 55 Society, he observed in The State, was formed “of 
the common habit, an evolution of experience, an interlaced growth 
of tenacious relationships, a compact, living, organic whole, structural, 

7 



INTRODUCTION 


not mechanical.” In his first inaugural address, Wilson staled: “We 
shall deal with our economic system as it is and as it may he modified 
not as it might be if we had a clean sheet of paper to write upon.” 

While, on occasion, Wilson adopted Brandois’ view that bigness 
was, in itself, a curse, more often he insisted that he did not oppose 
bigness as such, so long as this great size had been acquired fairly. 
“I am not afraid of anything that is normal,” Wilson asserted, and if 
trusts were the product of natural growth, he had no quarrel with 
them. There was no little casuistry in Wilson’s distinction between big 
business and the trusts, and, in fact, he did almost nothing, either as 
governor or as president, to disturb existing agglomerations. He aimed 


rather at halting the process of concentration before it went any 
further. While he was worried about the tendency toward monopoly in 
particular industries, he was most alarmed by the “community of 
interest” created by “the combination of the combinations,” and he 
wanted to use the power of government to insure intercorporate com- 


XU Xiao UGCUL 3d.lU 


am perfectly willing to admit it,” Wilson declared in 1912, “but I can 
see in all cases before they are scrambled that they are not put in the 
same basket and entrusted to the same groups of persons.” 

Wilson believed that only in a society of free enterprise could men 
be free. In 1910, he observed that in the modern business world, men 
were no longer individuals but “fractions.” Having lost their inde¬ 
pendence of choice in business, they had “lost also their individual 
choice within the field of morals.” In a truly competitive society, on 
the other hand, each man’s rewards would be determined by his 
character. A believer in progress who was at the same time deeply 
aware of the sinfulness of man, he distrusted concentrating power in 
the hands of corporations or of governments which would determine 
a mans lot m life for him. If each man were free to follow his own 
sdf-mterest, aware of his need to answer to his Maker, the interests of 
^ety wo^d be best advanced. Only in such a society could each 
a distinct moral agent,” responsible for his own destiny and 


INTRODUCTION 


living his life with an almost overpowering sense of the presence of 
God. Man, observed Wilson, was “not the creature of the drawing 
room or the stock exchange, but a lonely, awful soul confronted by 
the Source of all souls.” 

Nothing distressed Wilson more than the fear that the middle class, 
the class which originated new enterprises, was “being crushed be¬ 
tween the upper and nether millstones.” He hoped he would never see 
an America which consisted only “of masters and employees,” where 
the opportunities for the man who would take risks had been snuffed 
out. His New Freedom envisioned the kind of society the bourgeois 
French revolutionaries of 1789 had sought to create by ending privilege 
and declaring careers open to talents. They would destroy feudal 
privilege, he the privilege of the monopolists. By using the power of 
government to restore competition, Wilson hoped he could arrest the 
change from the old middle class of the independent professional and 
businessman to the new middle class of the white collar worker and 
the salaried professional. 

He wanted to help not the established businessman, but the new 
entrepreneur. The real division in the country, he said in 1908, was not 
between capital and labor, but rather between large, concentrated 
capital and more dispersed economic forces. “Every new policy pro¬ 
posed has as its immediate or ultimate object the restraint of the power 
of accumulated capital for the protection and benefit of those who can¬ 
not command its use,” Wilson observed. By 1910 he had become the 
paladin of the small businessman. “The trouble today is that you 
bankers are too narrow-minded, ” he scolded a meeting of New York 
financiers, including J. P. Morgan, that year. “You take no interest 
in the small borrower and the small enterprise which affect the future 
of the country, but you give every attention to the big borrower and 
the rich enterprise which has already arrived.” 

It is a little puzzling that a man like Wilson, who retreated from Ms 
brief contact with the harsh world of business and whose ideal in life 
was more that of the scholar or the English gentleman than the hustler, 

9 



INTRODUCTION 


should have placed at the center of his political thought (.he “man on the 
make.” His sympathy seems to have derived less from actual experience 
with the American salesman or shopkeeper or manufacturer than from 
his admiration of leaders of the British mercantile class like Richard 
Cobden and John Bright. He believed that while (he farmer and the 
worker were confined by the limits of a rural village or the factory 
walls, the merchant had a wide-ranging view that swept (he seven seas. 
Trade, he thought, was “the great nurse of liberal, ideas.” “Zeal for 
rational principles of trade,” he declared, “changed simple unambi¬ 
tious men of business into diligent politicians, transformed them into 
orators, exalted them into statesmen.” 

Modern liberals have distinguished between the “moral” and the 
“business” viewpoints of Wilson—insofar as he was for business, he 
was less “moral.” Such a viewpoint would have made liule sense to a 
seventeenth-century Puritan or a nineteenth-century Brutish liberal, 
and it made little sense to Wilson, who felt himself a part of both 
traditions. He told the Chicago Commercial Club in 1902: “Every 
great man of business has got somewhere . . . a touch of the idealist 
in him . . . this feeling of the subtle linking of all men together.” 
“Business underlies every part of our lives,” Wilson declared in 1912, 
“the foundation of our lives, of our spiritual lives included, is 
economic.” 

The growth of the trusts, Wilson believed, was the ultimate perver¬ 
sion of Whiggery. Government, he felt, should represent all the people, 
but should grant special privileges to none. His distinction between big 
business, which was acceptable, and the trusts, which were not, rested 
on the distinction that business had grown “naturally” while the trusts 
had not. The trusts had been fostered by the grant of special privileges 
like tariff protection. As Franklin K. Lane, who was later to serve in 
Wilson s cabinet, explained in 1911: “If men have made these tremen¬ 
dous fortunes out of privileges granted by the whole people, we can 
correct this by a change in our laws. They do not object to men making 
any amount of money so long as the individual makes it, but if the 

10 


INTRODUCTION 


Government makes It for him, that is another matter. 55 If the govern¬ 
ment denied special privileges, Wilson thought, these “artificial 55 cre¬ 
ations of the trusts, stripped of their unfair advantage, would not be able 
to stand up in competition with businesses that had grown naturally. 

Wilson charged that government had been rigged against the small 
entrepreneur not only because it had granted special privileges to 
trusts but because both governments and political parties were con¬ 
trolled by machines. The objection to the machine was the same as the 
objection to the trust: it used government for private purposes. Wilson 
sought to free government from its tie with any one class, and to divorce 
government from its association either with trusts or with machine 
bosses. His main disagreement with the Bull Moose Party of 1912 
arose from his conviction that Theodore Roosevelt, instead of destroy¬ 
ing these evil cabals, aimed to institutionalize the alliance of politics 
and business under the aegis of the super-trusts. 

He believed that politics must be purified. The government had been 
defiled by its association with privileged monopolists and he would wash 
it clean. Repeatedly Wilson returned to the imagery of light, air, and 
sun; government had been besmirched and had to be cleansed. By 
removing tariff privileges, he would “let the sun shine through the 
clouds again as once it shone. 55 “We are going into this garden and give 
the little plants air and light in which to grow, 55 Wilson explained. “We 
are going to pull up every root that has so spread itself as to draw the 
nutriment of the soil from other roots. 55 The energies of free men would 
then be able to find expression. To purify politics, he would break the 
nexus of government and special interests and arouse the citizenry to 
a moral awakening. 

Wilson contended that the most important decisions in the country 
were being made in secret behind locked doors. Trustees in the board 
room made economic policy; bosses in caucuses shaped political poE- 
cies. The people had no say at all. “It is a question of access to our own 
government, 55 Wilson observed. “There are very few of us who have 
had any real access to the government 55 “Woodrow Wilson’s new 

ii 


INTRODUCTION 


freedom,” as Henry Wallace later commented, “was the right to discuss 
in public those governmental decisions which had so long been made 
by government on behalf of business, by devious methods, with big 
corporations working through our political bosses.” Wilson believed 
that if actions were carried out in the full view of the people, evil doings 
would quickly be scotched, for a moral people would not countenance 
them. He wanted, in short, open covenants openly arrived at. 

Governor Wilson insisted that the government could claim that 
areas of life which were thought to be private lay in fact in the public 
domain. He was fascinated by the example of the city of Glasgow 
which treated the hallways and entries of the tenements as public 
streets and required that they be well lighted. Once again, he turned 
to the imagery of air, sun, and light. “You have got to cure diseased 
politics as we nowadays cure tuberculosis, by making all the people 
who suffer from it live out of doors,” he explained. They would “always 
remain in the open, where they will be accessible to fresh, nourishing, 
and revivifying influences.” “And so the people of the United States 
have made up their minds to do a healthy thing for both politics and 
big business,” Wilson asserted. “Permit me to mix a few metaphors: 
They are going to open doors; they are going to let up blinds; they are 
going to drag sick things into the open air and into the light of the sun. 

They are going to organize a great hunt, and smoke certain animals 
out of their burrows.” 


The core of Wilson’s thought was a protest against paternalism, and 
he disliked the paternalism of the welfare state almost as much as 
he objected to the egregiousness of the trusts. To be sure, he had come 
by 1912 to favor a number of welfare measures, although he did not go 
nearly so far as Roosevelt in this direction; yet his emphasis differed 
quite sharply from that of the statist progressives. He no more wished 
to grant special privileges to workers or farmers than to business cor¬ 
porations. He saw the state not as an agency to help direct society, 
but rather as an instrument to remove the shackles preventing men 
from haying the same opportunity to compete. As Walter Lippmann 
put it: Wilson’s political beliefs were “a fusion of Jeffersonian democ- 


12 




INTRODUCTION 

racy with a kind of British Gobdenism. This meant in practical life a 
conviction that the world needs not so much to be administered as to 
be released from control.” 

Curiously, for a man who is taken as the exemplar of the intellectual 
in government, Wilson distrusted the new class of experts, and viewed 
with alarm the growth of commissions, which would provide the intel¬ 
lectuals with their home in government. He appeared to have for 
experts the tolerant disdain with which a university president views 
the claims to o mn iscience of his faculty. “I have lived with experts all 
my life,” he observed, “and I know that experts . . . don’t even per¬ 
ceive what is under their nose.” His chief adviser, Brandeis, had the 
same suspicion of the planners, but he came to see more quickly than 
Wilson the need for expertise, and it was, of course, Brandeis who, by 
his brief in Muller u. Oregon , had given the intellectual new stature and 
a new role in securing progressive legislation. Under Brandeis’s tute¬ 
lage, Wilson modified some of his views. Yet even at the end of the 
campaign, he still remained suspicious of government commissions and 
arrogant intellectuals. 

Nevertheless, no one who understood Wilson could have supposed 
that he wished to preside over an impotent government. Unlike a ma n 
such as Grover Cleveland, whose views he seemed to share, Wilson had 
the governing urge. However conservative his doctrines may have been 
at any given time, Wilson had the zeal of a change-maker who wanted to 
remake the world. Only one question faced a competent leader, Wilson 
declared in 1890: “There are men to be moved: how shall he move 
them? ... It is the power which dictates, dominates; the materials 
yield. Men are as clay in the hands of the consummate leader.” At 
times, Wilson sounded like a conservative politician who, once he 
achieved office, would be a roi faineant. In fact, he thought of himself 
—good Presbyterian that he was—as nothing less than an instrument 
of the Lord charged with altering the conditions of life for his fellow 
men. 

When Wilson entered the White House, he quickly demonstrated 
that he had the power to command, and it was not long before he 

13 


ms rr- r: j :7 

8AENEGIE !i::^ . ;• r: 


J 


INTRODUCTION 


recognized that the ideology of Cobdenism had little relevance to 
America in the second decade of the twentieth century. Before he had 
ended his first term of office, he had jettisoned almost every one of the 
New Freedom doctrines. Even in his first months as president, when 
he adhered with reasonable faith to the philosophy of the New Freedom, 
he felt compelled to concede a good deal to the advocates of a positive 
state. By the end of 1916, he had gone virtually all the way. He had 
approved welfare legislation like the Child Labor Law and the La 
Folletie Se ame n’s Act; he had fought for special interest measures like 
the Adamson Act and the Rural Credits Act; and he had surrendered 
to business demands for a tariff commission, protection against 
“dumping,” and government sanction of export cartels. With scarcely 
a backward glance at the crusade for a New Freedom, he claimed i n 
1916 to have enacied the program of the Bull Moose Party as well as 
his own. 


By 1916, Wilson’s campaign of four years before already seemed 
curiously antiquated. When he had run for president for the first time, 
he had spoken to a nation that stood at a great divide, looking long¬ 
ingly at the nineteenth-century world it was leaving, peering, half- 
hopefuilv, half-anxiously, at the twentieth-century world it was about 
to enter. Wilson’s campaign of 1912 caught perfectly the mood of 
America that year, a nation captivated by the new and yearning for 
the old. In ffie same sentence, he could say that he wanted “to express 
tte wa spirit of our politics and restore our politics to their full spiritual 
vigor again.” He identified himself with progress, spoke of “the pres¬ 
ence of a new organization of society,” and in a year when Africa 
was excited by the New Theater and the New Poetry, called his 
pohncal program the New Freedom. Yet at the same time he exploited 
resentment at the impersonal nature of the modern world and the 
disappearance of the village. He talked of “restoration” and “return” - 
celebrated the “America of the fathers”; and resorted repeatedly to 
mages of a pristine rural life: “voting populations of the countryside 
trampang over the mountains, men going to the general store up 

14 


INTRODUCTION 


In the village, men moving in little talking groups to the comer grocery 
to cast their ballots. 5 * Never did he try to evoke a similar urban Idyll. 
“You know what the vitality of America consists of, 55 Wilson declared. 
“Its vitality does not lie in New York, nor in Chicago; it will not be 
sapped by anything that happens in St. Louis. 55 Precisely at the point 
in time when the city was beginning to overtake the rural town, Wilson 
warned that “if America discourages the locality, the community, the 
self-contained town, she will kill the nation. 55 

By 1916, America had already taken several long strides from the 
village world Wilson had held up as an ideal. Today, we have travelled 
so far from that world that much of The New Freedom no longer seems 
usable. “If America is not to have free enterprise, 55 Wilson told a crowd 
in Denver in October 1912, “then she can have freedom of no sort 
whatever. 55 A statement of this sort—one which pays such homage to 
“free enterprise 55 —has a curious ring for the modern liberal, and it is 
here that much of the difficulty of the usability of Wilson’s words for 
the liberal of the 1960 5 s lies. Wilson’s New Freedom was a progressive 
response, but it was a special brand of progresslvism. It was deeply 
rooted in nineteenth-century British liberalism. Wilson’s Southern free 
trade heritage, his studies at Princeton, his reading of Godkin’s Nation, 
the Influence of Cobden and Bright and above all of his idol, Gladstone, 
had all made of him a disciple of the classical British economists. Wilson 
had that distrust of centralized power of a states rights Democrat 
whose family had lived in Augusta when Sherman was marching 
through Georgia. 

Wilson conceived of every man as a potential businessman. It almost 
seemed as though he could not imagine a man’s being free if he were 
an employee. If unborn children “open their eyes in a country where 
they must be employees or nothing,” Wilson cried, “then they will see 
an America such as the founders of this Republic would have wept to 
think of. 55 Apparently he never grasped the fact that America had 
become a land where most people were destined to be employees, or 
what the consequences of this development were. He had almost 

15 


INTRODUCTION 


nothing to say to this employee class except to promise them a way 
out of their bondage, a way which, in the very nature of things, was 
open to very few of them. 

In later years, many of the champions of the New Freedom opposed 
vigorously the advocates of an omnicompetent welfare slate. In the 
1920’s, good New Freedom Democrats adjusted easily to the business 
ethos; after all, Wilson’s “man on the make” was the prototype of the 
booster at the Rotary luncheon, and in the 1930’s, many of the 
Wilsonian Democrats—men like McReynolds, Glass, and Baker— 
became bitter foes of the New Deal. For a time, Brandeis and his follow¬ 
ers did leave their imprint on the New Deal, and in the summer of 1935, 
the ideological warfare revived memories of 1912. Brandeis wrote a 
friend: “F. D. is making a gallant fight and seems to appreciate fully the 
evils of bigness. He should have more support than his party is giving 
him; and the social worker-progressive crowd seems as blind as in 1912. ” 
Yet the animus of this faction of New Dealers was really quite differ¬ 
ent from that of Wilson in 1912. They were less concerned with ad¬ 
vancing the interests of the “man on the make” than in arguing that 
business was the enemy of reform, and hence that Roosevelt, rather 
than seeking a coalition with business as he had in the NRA, should 
be trying to dynamite the great concentrations of power. 

In only one important respect does The New Freedom speak directly 
to the liberal of today. In warning of the perils of “corporate philan- 
Ikropy,” Wilson anticipated the modern-day concern with the Organ¬ 
ization Man. Wilson feared that the corporation might not only do 
economic mischief, but, more important, that it would swallow up the 
individual. The vast impersonality of modern business, Wilson 
warned, was destroying the independence of men. The country 
doctor was devoured by the city hospital, the village attorney by the 
ma mm oth law firm, the small businessman by the corporation. The 
menace came not simply from the malevolent corporation, but, per¬ 
haps even more, from the well-intentioned corporation which, through 
its profit-sharing and bonus plans, subtly destroyed men’s wills by 

16 


INTRODUCTION 


offering them security and contentment. In his alarm at the permea¬ 
tion of the values of the large organization through all of American 
culture, he expressed fears which a half-century later would be even 
more keenly felt. 

William E. Leuchtenburg 


*7 


The New Freedom 



This book I dedicate, with all my 
heart, to every man or woman 
who may derive from it, in how¬ 
ever small a degree, the impulse 
of unselfish public service. 



Preface 


I have not written a book since the campaign. I did not 
write this book at all. It is the result of the editorial literary skill 
of Mr. William Bayard Hale, who has put together here in their 
right sequences the more suggestive portions of my campaign 
speeches. 

And yet it is not a book of campaign speeches. It is a 
discussion of a number of very vital subjects in the free form of 
extemporaneously spoken words. I have left the sentences in the 
form in which they were stenographically reported. I have not tried 
to alter the easy-going and often colloquial phraseology in which 
they were uttered from the platform, in the hope that they would 
seem the more fresh and spontaneous because of their very lack of 
pruning and recasting. They have been suffered to run their un¬ 
premeditated course even at the cost of such repetition and re¬ 
dundancy as the extemporaneous speaker apparently inevitably 
falls into. 

The book is not a discussion of measures or of programs. 
It is an attempt to express the new spirit of our politics and to set 
forth, in large terms which may stick in the imagination, what it is 
that must be done if we are to restore our politics to their full 
spiritual vigor again, and our national life, whether in trade, in 
industry, or in what concerns us only as families and individuals, 
to its purity, its self-respect, and its pristine strength and freedom. 
The New Freedom is only the old revived and clothed in the un¬ 
conquerable strength of modern America. 

Woodrow Wilson 
18 



1 


The Old Order Changeth 


There is one great basic fact which underlies all the questions 
that are discussed on the political platform at the present moment. 
That singular fact is that nothing is done in this country as it was done 
twenty years ago. 

We are in the presence of a new organization of society. Our 
life has broken away from the past. The life of America is not the life 
that it was twenty years ago; it is not the life that it was ten years ago. 
We have changed our economic conditions, absolutely, from top to 
bottom; and, with our economic society, the organization of our life. 
The old political formulas do not fit the present problems; they read 
now like documents taken out of a forgotten age. The older cries sound 
as if they belonged to a past age which men have almost forgotten. 
Things which used to be put into the party platforms of ten years ago 
would sound antiquated if put into a platform now. We are facing the 
necessity of fitting a new social organization, as we did once fit the old 
organization, to the happiness and prosperity of the great body of 
citizens; for we are conscious that the new order of society has not 
been made to fit and provide the convenience or prosperity of the aver¬ 
age man. The life of the nation has grown infinitely varied. It does not 
centre now upon questions of governmental structure or of the distri¬ 
bution of governmental powers. It centres upon questions of the very 
structure and operation of society itself, of which government is only 

*9 




THE OLD ORDER OHANOETH 


the instrument. Our development has run so fast and so far along the 
lines sketched in the earlier day of constitutional definition, has so 
crossed and interlaced those lines, has piled upon (hem such novel 
structures of trust and combination, has elaborated within them a life 
so manifold, so full of forces which transcend the boundaries of the 
country itself and fill the eyes of the world, that a new nation seems to 
have been created which the old formulas do not fit or afford a vital 
interpretation of. 


We have come upon a very different age from any that preceded 
us. We have come upon an age when we do not do business in 
the way in which we used to do business,—when we do not carry on 
any of the operations of manufacture, sale, transportation, or commu¬ 
nication as men used to carry them on. There is a sense in which in our 
day the individual has been submerged. In most parts of our country 
men work, not for themselves, not as partners in the old way in which 
they used to work, but generally as employees,—in a higher or lower 
grade,—of great corporations. There was a time when corporations 
played a very minor part in our business affairs, but now they play the 
chief part, and most men are the servants of corporations. 

You know what happens when you are the servant of a corporation. 
You have in no instance access to the men who are really determining 
the policy of the corporation. If the corporation is doing the things that 
it ought not to do, you really have no voice in the matter and must 
obey the orders, and you have oftentimes with deep mortification to 
co-operate in the doing of things which you know are against the 
public interest. Your individuality is swallowed up in the individuality 
and purpose of a great organization. 


t is true that, while most men are thus submerged in the corpora¬ 
tion, a few, a very few, are exalted to a power which as individuals they 
co d never have wielded. Through the great organizations of which 
fftey are the heads, a few are enabled to play a part unprecedented by 
^ “ history in the control of the business operations of the 
of^ople m determination of the ^aess of great numbers 


20 


THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH 


Yesterday, and ever since history began, men were related to one 
another as individuals. To be sure there were the family, the Church, 
and the State, institutions which associated men in certain wide circles 
of relationship. But in the ordinary concerns of life, in the ordinary 
work, in the daily round, men dealt freely and directly with one an¬ 
other. To-day, the everyday relationships of men are largely with great 
impersonal concerns, with organizations, not with other individual 
men. 

Now this is nothing short of a new social age, a new era of human 
relationships, a new stage-setting for the drama of life. 

In this new age we find, for instance, that our laws with regard to 
the relations of employer and employee are in many respects wholly 
antiquated and impossible. They were framed for another age, which 
nobody now living remembers, which is, indeed, so remote from our 
life that it would be difficult for many of us to understand it if it were 
described to us. The employer is now generally a corporation or a huge 
company of some kind; the employee is one of hundreds or of thousands 
brought together, not by individual masters whom they know and with 
whom they have personal relations, but by agents of one sort or an¬ 
other. Workingmen are marshaled in great numbers for the perform¬ 
ance of a multitude of particular tasks under a common discipline. 
They generally use dangerous and powerful machinery, over whose 
repair and renewal they have no control. New rules must be devised 
with regard to their obligations and their rights, their obligations to 
their employers and their responsibilities to one another. Rules must 
be devised for their protection, for their compensation when injured, 
for their support when disabled. 

There is something very new and very big and very complex about 
these new relations of capital and labor. A new economic society has 
sprung up, and we must effect a new set of adjustments. We must not 
pit power against weakness. The employer is generally, in our da>, as 
I have said, not an individual, but a powerful group; and yet the 


21 


THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH 


workragman when dealing with, his employer is still, under our existing 

law, an individual. 

Why is it that we have a labor question at all? It is for the simple and 
very sufficient reason that the laboring man and the employer are not 
Intimate associates now as they used to be in time past. Most of our 
lam were formed in the age when employer and employees knew each 
other., knew each others characters, were associates with each other, 
dealt with each other as man with man. That is no longer the case. 

not only do not come into personal contact with the men who 
have the supreme command in those corporations, but it would be out 
of the question for you to do it. Our modern corporations employ 
thousands, ami in some instances hundreds of thousands, of men. The 
only persons whom you see or deal with are local superintendents or 
local repesmtatives of a vast organization, which is not like anything 
that die workingmen of the time .in which our laws were framed knew 
anything about. A little group of workingmen, seeing their employer 
'day, dealing with Mm in a personal way, is one thing, and the 
modern body of labor engaged as employees of the huge enterprises 
that spread all over the country, dealing with men of whom they can 
fenn no personal conception, is another thing. A very different thing. 
Yen nevo" saw a oorpoKation, any more than you ever saw a govern¬ 
ment. Many a ^wmkmgnmii to-day never saw the body of men who are 
conductii^ the industry in which he is employed. And they never saw 
Mm. What they know about him is written in ledgers and books and 
letters, in the correspondence of the office, in the reports of the super¬ 
intendents. He is a long way off from them. 

. & wMt Mvt to cfeCTSS H not wrongs wMch individuals inten- 
nonafly do, I do not believe there am a great many of those,—but 
the wrongs of a system. I want to record my protest against any dis¬ 
cussion of dlls matter which would seem to indicate that there are 
irfa crf'OTr fellow- citizens who are trying to grind us down and do 
us injustice. Them are some men of that sort I don’t know how they 
sleep o’ nights, but there are men of that kind. Thank God, they are 
not numerous. The truth is, we are all caught in a great economic 

22 



THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH 


system which is heartless. The modem corporation is not engaged in 
business as an individual. When we deal with it, we deal with an im¬ 
personal element, an immaterial piece of society. A modem corporation 
is a means of co-operation in the conduct of an enterprise which is so 
big that no one man can conduct it, and which the resources of no one 
man are sufficient to finance. A company is formed; that company puts 
out a prospectus; the promoters expect to raise a certain fund as capital 
stock. Well, how are they going to raise it? They are going to raise it 
from the public in general, some of whom will buy their stock. The 
moment that begins, there is formed—what? A joint stock corporation. 
Men begin to pool their earnings, little piles, big piles. A certain num¬ 
ber of men are elected by the stockholders to be directors, and these 
directors elect a president. This president is the head erf the under¬ 
taking, and the directors are its managers. 

Now, do the workingmen employed by that stock corporation deal 
with that president and those directors? Not at all. Does the public 
deal with that president and that board of directors? It does not. Gan 
anybody bring them to account? It is next to imposaMe to do so. If 
you undertake it you will find it a game of hide and seek, with the 
objects of your search t aking refuge now behind the tree erf their indi¬ 
vidual personality, now behind that of their corporate irresponsibility. 

And do our laws take note of this curious state erf things? Do they 
even attempt to distinguish between a man’s act as a corporation 
director and as an individual? They do not. Our laws still deal with us 
on the basis of the old system. The law is still living in the dead past 
which we have left behind. This is evident, for instance, with regard 
to the matter of employers 5 liability for workingmen’s injuries. Suppose 
that a superintendent wants a wo rkm a n to use a certain piece erf 
machinery which it is not safe for him to use, and that the workman 
is injured by that piece of machinery. Some of our courts, have held 
that the superintendent .is a fellow-servant, or, as the law states it, a 
fellow-employee, and that, therefore, the man cannot recover damages 
for his injury. The superintendent who probably engaged the man is 
not his employer. Who is Ms employer? And whose negligence could 

23 


THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH 

Conceivably come in there? The board of directors did not tell tho 
employee to use that piece of machinery; and the president of the: 
corporation did not tell him to use that piece of machinery. And so 
Don’t yon see by that theory that a man never can get redress 
^° r negligence on the part of the employer? When I hear judges reasoo 
U P° D analogy of the relationship that used to exist between work— 
and their employers a generation ago, I wonder if they have not: 
°I>ened their eyes to the modern world. You know, we have a right to 
^^epect that judges will have their eyes open, even though the law whiclx 
tffcfcey administer hasn’t awakened. 

^Tet that is but a single s ma l l detail illustrative of the difficulties we 
^ is because we have not adjusted the law to the facts of the nevi r 
oircier. 

Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men’s views confided to 
privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the? 
field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of somebody, are afraid 
of* something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized* 
so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that: 
tifiey had better not speak above their breath when they speak in con¬ 
demnation of it. 

They know that America is not a place of which it can be said, as it 
tised to be, that a m a n may choose his own calling anH pursue it just 
as far as Ms abilities enable Mm to pursue it; because to-day, if he 
enters certain fields, there are organizations wMch will use means 
against Mm that will prevent Ms building up a business wMch they do 
not want to have built up; organizations that will see to it that the 
grouid is cut from under him , and the markets shut against him. For 
i£ ine begins to sell to certain retail dealers, to any retail dealers, the 
monopoly will refuse to sell to those dealers, and those dealers, afraid, 
will not buy the new man’s wares. 

J\nd this is the country wMch has lifted to the admiration of the 
world its ideals of absolutely free opportunity, where no mart i s sup- 

24 




THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH 

posed to be under any limitation except the limitations of his character 
and of his mind; where there is supposed to be no distinction of class, 
no distinction of blood, no distinction of social status, but where men 
win or lose on their merits. 

I lay it very close to my own conscience as a public man whether 
we can any longer stand at our doors and welcome all newcomers 
upon those terms. American industry is not free, as once it was free; 
American enterprise is not free; the man with only a little capital is 
finding it harder to get into the field, more and more impossible to 
compete with the big fellow. Why? Because the laws of this country 
do not prevent the strong from crushing the weak. That is the reason, 
and because the strong have crushed the weak the strong dominate 
the industry and the economic life of this country. No man can deny 
that the lines of endeavor have more and more narrowed and stiffened; 
no man who knows anything about the development of industry in 
this country can have failed to observe that the larger kinds of credit 
are more and more difficult to obtain, unless you obtain them upon the 
terms of uniting your efforts with those who already control the in¬ 
dustries of the country; and nobody can fail to observe that any man 
who tries to set himself up in competition with any process of manufac¬ 
ture which has been taken under the control of large combinations of 
capital will presently find himself either squeezed out or obliged to 
sell and allow himself to be absorbed. 

There is a great deal that needs reconstruction in the United States. 
I should like to take a census of the business men,—I mean the rank 
and file of the business menas to whether they think that business 
conditions in this country, or rather whether the organization of busi¬ 
ness in this country, is satisfactory or not. I know what they would say 
if they dared. If they could vote secretly they would vote overwhelm¬ 
ingly that the present organization of business was meant for the big 
fellows and was not meant for the little fellows; that it was meant for 
those who are at the top and was meant to exclude those who are at 
the bottom; that it was meant to shut out beginners, to prevent new 

25 



THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH 


entries in the race, to prevent the building up of competitive enter¬ 
prises that would interfere with the monopolies which the great trusts 

have built up. 

What this country needs above everything else is a body of laws 
which will look after the men who are on the make rather than the 
men who are already made. Because the men who are already made 
are not going to live indefinitely, and they are not always kind enough 
to leave sons as able and honest as they are. 

The originative part of America, the part of America that makes 
new enterprises, the part into which the ambitious and gifted working¬ 
man makes Ms way up, the class that saves, that plans, that organizes, 
that presently spreads its enterprises until they have a national scope 
and character, that middle class is being more and more squeezed 
out by the processes which we have been taught to call processes of 
prosperity. Its members are sharing prosperity, no doubt; but what 
alarms me is that they are not originating prosperity. No country can 
afford to have its prosperity originated by a small controlling class. 
The treasury of America does not lie in the brains of the small body of 
men now in control of the great enterprises that have been concentrated 
unde* the direction of a very small number of persons. The treasury 
of America lies in those ambitions, these energies, that cannot be re¬ 
stricted to a special favored das. It depends upon the inventions of 
unknown men, upon the originations of unknown men, upon the 
ambitions erf unknown men. Every country is renewed out of the ranks 
erf the unknown, not out of the ranks erf those already famous and 
powerful and in control. 

There has come over the land that un-American set of conditions 
which enables a small number of men who control the government to 
get favors from the government; by those favors to exclude their fellows 
from equal business opportunity; by these favors to extend a network 
of control that will presendy dominate every industry in the country, 
an so make men forget the ancient time when America lay in every 
hamlet, when America was to be seen in every fair valley, when 
America displayed her great forces on the broad prairies, ran her fine 

26 



THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH 


fires of enterprise up over the mountainsides and down into the bowels 
of the earth, and eager men were everywhere captains of industry, not 
employees; not looking to a distant city to find out what they might 
do, but looking about among their neighbors, finding credit according 
to their character, not according to their connections, finding credit 
in proportion to what was known to be in them and behind them, not 
in proportion to the securities they held that were approved where 
they were not known. In order to start an enterprise now, you have to 
be authenticated, in a perfectly impersonal way, not according to 
yourself, but according to what you own that somebody else approves 
of your owning. You cannot begin such an enterprise as those that have 
made America until you are so authenticated, until you have suc¬ 
ceeded in obtaining the good-will of large allied capitalists. Is that 
freedom? That is dependence, not freedom. 

We used to think in the old-fashioned days when life was very ample 
that all that government had to do was to put on a policeman’s uni¬ 
form, and say, “Now don’t anybody hurt anybody else.” We used to 
say that the ideal of government was for every man to be left alone 
and not interfered with, except when he interfered with somebody 
else; and that the best government was the government that did as 
little governing as possible. That was the idea that obtained in 
Jefferson’s time. But we are coming now to realize that life is so com¬ 
plicated that we are not dealing with the old conditions, and that the 
law has to step in and create new conditions under which we may live, 
the conditions which will make it tolerable for us to Eve. 

Let me illustrate what I mean: It used to be true in our cities that 
every family occupied a separate house of its own, that every fam ily 
fcad its own little premises, that every famil y was separated in its life 
from every other family. That is no longer the case in our great cities. 
Families live in tenements, they Eve in fiats, they Eve on loom; they 
are piled layer upon layer in the great tenement houses of our crowded 
districts, and not only are they piled layer upon layer, but they are 
associated room by room, so that there is in every room, sometimes, 
in our congested districts, a separate family. In some foreign countries 

27 


THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH 


tliey have made much more progress than we in handling these things. 
In the city of Glasgow, for example (Glasgow is one of the model dties 
of the world), they have made up their minds that the entries and the 
halways of great tenements are public streets. Therefore, the police¬ 


man goes up the stairway, and patrols the corridors; the lighting 
department of the city sees to it that the halls are abundantly lighted. 
The city does sot deceive itself into supposing that that great building 
is a unit from which the police are to keep out and the civic authority 
to be excluded, but it says: ‘‘These are public highways, and light is 
needed in them, and control by the authority of the city . 55 

I liken that to our great modern industrial enterprises. A corporation 
is very like a large tenement house; it isn’t the premises of a single 
commercial, family; it is just as much a public affair as a tenement 
house is a network of pubic highways. 


tinea you oner toe securities of a great 


wi pox anon ro any ooay 
wishes to purchase them, you must open that corporation to the in¬ 
spection of everybody who wants to purchase. There must, to follow 
«it the figure erf the tenement house, he lights along the corridors, 
there mmt police patrolling the openings, there must be inspection 
wnerever it is known that men may be deceived with regard to the 
cements of the premises. If we believe that fraud lies in wait for us, we 
must haw the means of determining whether our suspicions are well 
faiHfed or not Similarly, the treatment of labor by the great corpo- 
ranern is net what it was in Jefferson’s time. Whenever bodies of men 
employ bodies of men, it ceases to be a private relationship. So that 
waen conns hold that workingmen cannot peaceably dissuade other 
merfcngmen from taking employment, as was held in a notable case 
“ -New jersey, they simply show that their minds and understandings 
arc ^gmng m an age which has passed away. Ibis dealing of greS 
^ s « men with other bodies of men is a matter of public scrutiny, 
a^a s-omd ne a matter of public regulation. 7 

Similarly, it was no business of the law in the time of Jefferson to 

ZZ ST ^ “ h0W 1 kept W - But whe * m y house, 
^ * H5Blled 5™* ^1*** became a great mine, Id men 

28 



THE OLD ORDER GHANGETH 

along dark corridors amidst every kind of danger in order to dig 
of the bowels of the earth things necessary for the industries of a 
w fiole nation, and when it came about that no individual owned these 
XXx ^xxes, that they were owned by great stock companies, then all the 
°lci analogies absolutely collapsed and it became the right of the 
government to go down into these mines to see whether human beings 
' Vv 'csre properly treated in them or not; to see whether accidents were 
Properly safeguarded against; to see whether modem economical 
I ^^thods of using these inestimable riches of the earth were followed 
"were not followed. If somebody puts a derrick improperly secured 
top of a building or overtopping the street, then the government of 
Ae city has the right to see that that derrick is so secured that you and 
^ can walk under it and not be afraid that the heavens are going to fall 
ns. Likewise, in these great beehives where in every corridor swarm 
naen of flesh and blood, it is the privilege of the government, whether 
of the State or of the United States, as the case may be, to see that 
an life is protected, that human lungs have something to breathe. 

These, again, are merely illustrations of conditions. We are in a new 
world, straggling under old laws. As we go inspecting our lives to-day, 
surveying this new scene of centralized and complex society, we shall 
find many more things out of joint. 

One of the most alarming phenomena of the time,—or rather it 
would be alarming if the nation had not awakened to it and shown its 
determination to control it,—one of the most significant signs of the 
new social era is the degree to which government has become associ¬ 
ated with business. I speak, for the moment, of the control over the 
government exercised by Big Business. Behind the whole subject, of 
course, is the truth that, in the new order, government and busmen 
must be associated closely. But that association is at present of a nature 
a.fcjsolutely intolerable; the precedence is wrong, the association is up¬ 
side down. Our government has been for the past few years under the 
control of heads of great ailed corporations with special interests. It 
fias not controlled these interests and assigned them a proper place in 

29 



THE OLD ORDER GHANGETH 


the whole system of business; it has submitted itself to their control. 
As a result, there have grown up vicious systems and schemes of 
governmental favoritism (the most obvious being the extravagant 
tariff), far-reaching in effect upon the whole fabric of life, touching to 
his injury every inhabitant of the land, laying unfair and impossible 
handicaps upon competitors, imposing taxes in every direction, stifling 
everywhere the free spirit of American enterprise. 

h»ow this has come about naturally; as we go on we shall see how 
very naturally. It is no use denouncing anybody, or anything, except 
human nature. Nevertheless, it is an intolerable thing that the govern¬ 
ment of the republic should have got so far out of the hands of the 
people; should have been captured by interests which are special and 
not general In the train of this capture follow the troops of scandals, 
wrongs, indecencies, with which our politics swarm. 

'There are cities in America of whose government we are ashamed. 
TW are cities everywhere, in every part of the land, in which we feel 
that, not the interests of the public, but the interests of special privileges, 
of selfish men, are served; where contracts take precedence over public 
interest. Not only in big cities is this the case. Have you not noticed 
the growth of socialistic sentiment in the smaller towns? Not many 
months ago I stopped at a little town in Nebraska, and while my train 
ngered I met on the platform a very engaging young fellow dressed in 

mtr ° duCed Mmseif to me as the mayor of the town, and 
added -hat he was a Socialist. I said, “What does that mean? Does that 
moan that tbs mwn is socialistic?” “No, sir,” he said; “I have not de- 
cew? mysdf; the vote by which I was elected was about 20 per cent. 
sooaW and $0 per cent, protest.” It was protest against the treachery 
« ^L ^ Wb ° Ied 130111 & e other parties of that town. 
J*T Um ° n ** comi *S to feel that they have no 

t" f 0 ™ 1 “ one of the greatest States in 

the Lmon, winch was at one time in slavery. Until two years ago we 
had- witnessed with increasing concern the growth in New Jersey of a 

CyDiCal despair - Men said: “ We v °te; we are offered 

tiic platform wt wants, we dert ti*** -i , 

’ we the men who stand on that platform, 

30 


THE OLD ORDER GHANGETH 


and we get absolutely nothing.” So they began to ask: “What is the 
use of voting? We know that the machines of both parties are subsi¬ 
dized by the same persons, and therefore it is useless to turn in either 
direction.” 

This is not confined to some of the state governments and those of 
some of the towns and cities. We know that something intervenes be¬ 
tween the people of the United States and the control of their own 
affairs at Washington. It is not the people who have been ruling there 
of late. 

Why are we in the presence, why are we at the threshold, of a revo¬ 
lution? Because we are profoundly disturbed by the influences which 
we see reigning in the determination of our public life and our public 
policy. There was a time when America was blithe with self-confidence. 
She boasted that she, and she alone, knew the processes of popular 
government; but now she sees her sky overcast; she sees that there are 
at work forces which she did not dream of in her hopeful youth. 

Don’t you know that some man with eloquent tongue, without con¬ 
science, who did not care for the nation, could put this whole country 
into a flame? Don’t you know that this country from one end to the 
other believes that something is wrong? What an opportunity it would 
be for some man without conscience to spring up and say: “This is 
the way. Follow me!”—and lead in paths of destruction! 

The old order changeth—changeth under our very eyes, not quietly 
and equably, but swiftly and with the noise and heat and tumult erf 
reconstruction. 

I suppose that aH struggle for law has been conscious, that very little 
of it has been blind or merely instinctive. It is the fashion to say, as if 
with superior knowledge of affairs and of human weakness, that every 
age has been an age of transition, and that no age is more full of change 
than another; yet in very few ages of the world can the struggle for 
change have been so widespread, so deliberate, or upon so great a 
scale as in this in which we are taking part. 

The transition we are witnessing is no equable transition erf growth 
and normal alteration; no silent, unconscious unfolding of one age into 

31 



THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH 


another, its natural heir and successor. Society is looking itself over, in 
our day, from top to bottom; is making fresh and critical analysis of its 
very elements; is questioning its oldest practices as freely as its newest, 
seratinizing every arrangement and motive of its life; and it stands 
ready to attempt nothing less than a radical reconstruction, which only 
frank and honest counsels and the forces of generous co-operation can 
hold back from becoming a revolution. We are in a temper to recon¬ 
struct economic society, as we were once in a temper to reconstruct 
political society, and political society may itself undergo a radical modi¬ 
fication in the process. I doubt if any age was ever more conscious of 
its task or more unanimously desirous of radical and extended changes 
in its economic and political practice. 

We stand in the presence of a revolution,—not a bloody revolution; 
America is not given to the spilling of blood,—but a silent revolution, 
whereby America will insist upon recovering in practice those ideals 
which she has always professed, upon securing a government devoted 
to the general interest and not to special interests. 

We are upon the eve of a great reconstruction. It calls for creative 
stat esm a ns hip as no age has done since that great age in which we set 
up the government under which we live, that government which was 
the adm ir ation of the world until it suffered wrongs to grow up under 
it which have made many of our own compatriots question the freedom 
of our institutions and preach revolution against them. I do not fear 
revolutioxi. I have unshaken faith in the power of America to keep its 
self-possession. Revolution will come in peaceful guise, as it came 
when we put aside the crude government of the Confederation and 
created the great Federal Union which governs individuals, not States, 
and which has been these hundred and thir ty years our vehicle of 
progress. Some radical changes we must make in our law and practice. 
Some reconstructions we must push forward, for which a new age and 
new dzaxznstajQces impose upon us. But we can do it all in calm and 
sober fashion, like statesmen and patriots. 

I do not speak of these things in apprehension, because all is open 
and above-board. This is not a day in which great forces rally in secret. 

32 


THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH 

The whole stupendous program must be publicly planned and can¬ 
vassed. Good temper, the wisdom that comes of sober counsel, the 
energy of thoughtful and unselfish men, the habit of co-operation and of 
compromise which has been bred in us by long years of free govern¬ 
ment, in which reason rather than passion has been made to prevail 
by the sheer virtue of candid and universal debate, will enable us to 
win through to still another great age without violence. 


33 



2 


What Is Progress ? 


In that sage and veracious chronicle, “Alice Through the 
Looking-Glass,” it is recounted how, on a noteworthy occasion, the 
little heroine is seized by the Red Chess Queen, who races her off at a 
terrific pace. They run until both of them are out of breath; then they 
stop, and Alice looks around her and says, “Why, we are just where 
we were when we started!” “Oh, yes,” says the Red Queen; “you 
have to run twice as fast as that to get anywhere else.” 

That is a parable of progress. The laws of this country have 
not kept up with the change of economic circumstances in this country; 
they have not kept up with the change of political circumstances; and 
therefore we are not even where we were when we started. We shall 
have to run, not until we are out of breath, but until we have caught up 
with our own conditions, before we shall be where we were when we 
started; when we started this great experiment which has been the 
hope and the beacon of the world. And we should have to run twice 
as fast as any rational program I have seen in order to get anywhere 
else. 

I am, therefore, forced to be a progressive, if for no other 
reason, because we have not kept up with our changes of conditions, 
either in the economic field or in the political field. We have not kept 
up as well as other nations have. We have not kept our practices ad¬ 
justed to the facts of the case, and until we do, and unless we do, the 

35 


WHAT IS PROGRESS? 


facts of the case will always have the better of the argument; because 
if you do not adjust your laws to the facts, so much the worse for the 
laws, not for the facts, because law trails along after the facts. Only 
that law is unsafe which runs ahead of the facts and beckons to it and 
makes it folow the wifl-o s -the-wisps of imaginative projects. 

Business is in a situation in America which it was never in before; it 
is in a situation to which we have not adjusted our laws. Our laws are 
still meant for business done by individuals; they have not been satis¬ 
factorily adjusted to business done by great combinations, and we have 
got to adjust them. I do not say we may or may not; I say we must; 
there is no choice. If your laws do not fit your facts, the facts are not 
injured, the law' is damaged; because the law, unless I have studied it 
amiss, is the expression of the facts in legal relationships. Laws have 
never altered the facts; laws have always necessarily expressed the 
facts, adjusted interests as they have arisen and have changed toward 
one another. 

Politics in America is in a case which sadly requires attention. The 

system set up by our law and our usage doesn’t work,—or at least it 
can’t be depended on; it is made to work only by a most unreasonable 
expenditure of labor and {mins. The government, which was designed 
for the people, has got into the hands of bosses and their employers, 
the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the 
forms of democracy. 

There are serious things to do. Does any man doubt the great dis¬ 
content in this country? Does any man doubt that there are grounds 
and justifications for discontent? Do we dare stand still? Within the 
past few months we have witnessed (along with other strange political 
phenomena, eloquently significant of popular uneasiness) on one side 
doubling of the Socialist vote and on the other the posting on dead 
walls and hoardings all over the country of certai n very attractive and 
diverting bills warning citizens that it was “better to be safe than 
sorry” and advising them to “let well enough alone.” Apparently a 
good many citizens doubted whether the situation they were advised 
to let alone was really well enough, and concluded that they would 

36 


WHAT IS PROGRESS? 


take a chance of being sorry. To me, these counsels of donothlngism, 
these counsels of sitting still for fear something would happen, these 
counsels addressed to the hopeful, energetic people of the United States, 
telling them that they are not wise enough to touch their own affairs 
without marring them, constitute the most extraordinary argument of 
fatuous ignorance I ever heard. Americans are not yet cowards. True, 
their self-reliance has been sapped by years of submission to the doc¬ 
trine that prosperity is something that benevolent magnates pro¬ 
vide for them with the aid of the government; their self-reliance has 
been weakened, but not so utterly destroyed that you can twit them 
about it. The American people are not naturally stand-patters. Progress 
is the word that charms their ears and stirs their hearts. 

There are, of course, Americans who have not yet heard that any¬ 
thing is going on. The circus might come to town, have the big parade 
and go, without their catching a sight of the camels or a note of the 
calliope. There are people, even Americans, who never move them¬ 
selves or know that anything else is moving. 

A friend of mine who had heard of the Florida “cracker,” as they 
call a certain ne’er-do-well portion of the population down there, when 
passing through the State in a train, asked some one to point out a 
“cracker 55 to Mm. The man asked replied, “WeM, if you see something 
off in the woods that looks brown, like a stump, you will know It is 
either a stump or a cracker; if it moves, it is a stump.” 

Now, movement has no virtue In Itself. Change is not worth while 
for its own sake. I am not one of those who love variety for its own 
sake. If a thing is good to-day, I should like to have it stay that way 
to-morrow. Most of our calculations in life are dependent upon things 
staying the way they are. For example, if, when you got up this morn¬ 
ing, you had forgotten how to dress, if you had forgotten all about them 
ordinary things wMch you do almost automatically, which you can 
almost do Half awake, you would have to find out what you did yester¬ 
day. I am told by the psychologists that if I did not remember who I 
was yesterday, I should not know who I am to-day, and that, therefore, 
my very identity depends upon my being able to tally to-day with 

37 


WHAT IS PROGRESS? 


yesterday. If they do not tally, then I am confused; I do not know who 
I am, and I have to go around and ask somebody to tell me my name 

and where I came from. 


I am not one of those who wish to break connection with the past; 
I am not one erf those who wish to change for the mere sake of variety. 
The only men who do that are the men who want to forget something, 
the men who filed yesterday with something they would rather not 
recollect to-day, and so go about seeking diversion, seeking abstraction 
in something that will Mot out recollection, or seeking to put something 
into them which will Mot out all recollection. Change is not worth 
while unless it is improvement. If I move out of my present house 
because I do not Ike it, then I have got to choose a better house, or 
build a better house, to justify the change. 

It would stem a waste of time to point out that ancient distinction,— 
between mere change and improvement. Yet there is a class of mind 
thmh prone to confuse them. % have had political leaders whose con¬ 
ception of greatness was to be forever frantically doing something,—it 
mattered lute what; restless, vociferous men, without sense of the 
emerge erf coocentranon, knowing only the energy of succession. Now, 
life does not consist erf eternally running to a fire. There is no virtue in 

yra will gain something by being there. The 
tirectica isjmtas important as the Impetus of the motion. 


™ pr ° BP “ de?esds Qn you are going, and where you are 

gomg s and I fear there has been too much erf this thing of knowing 
aether bow fast we were going or where we were going. I have my 
wc have been doing most of our progressiveness after 
diembson of those things that in my boyhood days we called “tread- 
^ -a treadmill being a moving platform, with cleats on it, on 
winch some poor devil of a mule was forced to walk forever without 

othtr animals have been known 

to turn treadmills, making a good deal of noise, and causing certain 

r““ “J* r "“ d ’ “* 1 grmdtos m 

for roratedy, to toW ochioviog mto, progress. ia ^ 

38 




WHAT IS PROGRESS? 

effort to persuade the elephant to move, really, his friends tried dyna¬ 
mite. It moved,—in separate and scattered parts, but it moved. 

A cynical but witty Englishman said, in a book, not long ago, that it 
was a mistake to say of a conspicuously successful man, eminent in his 
line of business, that you could not bribe a man like that, because, he 
said, the point about such men is that they have been bribed—not in 
the ordinary meaning of that word, not in any gross, corrupt sense, but 
they have achieved their great success by means of the existing order 
of things and therefore they have been put under bonds to see that that 
existing order of things is not changed; they are bribed to maintain the 
status quo. 

It was for that reason that I used to say, when I had to do with the 
administration of an educational institution, that I should like to make 
the young gentlemen of the rising generation as unlike their fathers as 
possible. Not because their fathers lacked character or intelligence or 
knowledge or patriotism, but because their fathers, by reason of their 
advancing years and their established position in society, had lost touch 
with the processes of life; they had forgotten what it was to begin; they 
had forgotten what it was to rise; they had forgotten what it was to be 
dominated by the circumstances of their life on their way up from the 
bottom to the top, and, therefore, they were out of sympathy with the 
creative, formative and progressive forces of society. 

Progress! Bid you ever reflect that that word is almost a new one? 
No word comes more often or more naturally to the Ups of modem 
as if the thing it stands for were almost synonymous with life itself, and 
yet men through many thousand years never talked or thought of 
progress. They thought in the other direction. Their stories of heroisms 
and glory were tales of the past. The ancestor wore the heavier armor 
and carried the larger spear. “There were giants in those days .’ 5 Now 
all that has altered- We think of the future, not the past, as the more 
glorious time in comparison with which the present is no thing . 
Progress, development,—those are modern words. The modem idea, 
is to leave the past and press onward to something new. 

39 


WHAT IS PROGRESS? 


But what is progress going to do with the past, and with the present? 
How is it going to treat them? With ignominy, or respect? Should it 
break with them altogether, or rise out of them, with its roots still deep 
in the older time? What attitude shall progressives take toward the 
existing order, toward these Institutions of conservatism, the Consti¬ 
tution, the laws, and the courts? 

Are those thoughtful men who fear that we are now about to disturb 
the ancient foundations of our institutions justified in their fear? If they 
are, we ought to go very slowly about the processes of change. If it is 
indeed true that we have grown tired of the institutions which we have 
so carefully and sedulously built up, then we ought to go very slowly 
and very carefully about the very dangerous task of altering them. We 
ought, therefore, to ask ourselves, first of all, whether thought in this 
country is tending to do anything by which we shall retrace our steps, 
or by which we shall change the whole direction of our development? 

I believe, for one, that you cannot tear up ancient rootages and 
safely plant the tree of liberty in soil which is not native to it. I believe 
that the ancient traditions of a people are its ballast; you cannot make 
a iahda tom upon which to write a political program. You cannot take 
a new sheet of paper and determine what your life shall be to-morrow. 

\ on mist kmt the new into the old. You cannot put a new patch on an 
oM garment without mining it; it must be not a patch, but something 
woven into the old fabric, of practically the same pattern, of the same 
texture and intentfon. If I did not believe that to be progressive was 
to Ftserve the essentials of our institutions, I for one could not be a 
progressive. 

One of the chief benefits I used to derive from being president of a 
university was that I had the pleasure of entertaining thoughtful men 
from all over the world. I cannot tell you how much has dropped into 
my granary by their presence. I had been casting around in my mind 
for something by which to draw several parts of my political thought 
together when it was my good fortune to entertain a very interesting 
Scotsman who had been devoting himself to the philosophical thought 

40 




WHAT IS PROGRESS? 


of the seventeenth century. His talk was so engaging that it was delight¬ 
ful to hear him speak of anything, and presently there came out of the 
unexpected region of his thought the thing I had been waiting for. He 
called my attention to the fact that in every generation all sorts of 
speculation and thinking tend to fall under the formula of the dominant 
thought of the age. For example, after the Newtonian Theory of the 
universe had been developed, almost all thinking tended to express 
itself in the analogies of the Newtonian Theory, and since the Darwin¬ 
ian Theory has reigned amongst us, everybody is likely to express 
whatever he wishes to expound in terms of development and accom¬ 
modation to environment. 

Now, it came to me, as this interesting man talked, that the Consti¬ 
tution of the United States had been made under the dominion of 
the Newtonian Theory. You have only to read the papers of The 
Federalist to see that fact written on every page. They speak of the 
checks and balances 33 of the Constitution, and use to express their 
idea the simile of the organization of the universe, and particularly of 
the solar system, how by the attraction of gravitation the various 
parts are held in their orbits; and then they proceed to represent 
Congress, the Judiciary, and the President as a sort of imitation of the 
solar system. 

They were only following the English Whigs, who gave Great 
Britain its modern constitution. Not that those English men analyzed 
the matter, or had any theory about it; Englishmen care little for 
theories. It was a Frenchman, Montesquieu, who pointed out to them 
how faithfully they had copied Newton 3 s description of the mechanism 
of the heavens. 

The makers of our Federal Constitution read Montesquieu with 
true scientific enthusiasm. They were scientists in their way,—the best 
way of their age,—those fathers of the nation. Jefferson wrote of “the 
laws of Nature, 33 —and then by way of afterthought,—“and of Nature’s 
God . 33 And they constructed a government as they would have con¬ 
structed an orrery,—to display the laws of nature. Politics in their 
thought was a variety of mechanics. The Constitution was founded on 

4i 



WHAT IS PROGRESS? 


Ac law erf* gravitation. The government was to exist and move by 
virtue of the efficacy of “checks and balances. 5 ’ 

The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, 
but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but 
under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to 
Newton. It Is modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, 
shaped to its functions by the sheer pressure of life. No living thing 
can have its organs offset against each other, as checks, and live. On 
the contrary, its life is dependent upon their quick co-operation, their 
ready response to the co m ma n ds of instinct or intelligence, their 
amicable community of purpose. Government is not a body of blind 
forces; it is a body of men, with highly differentiated functions, no 
doubt, in oar mod cm day, of specialization, with a common task and 
purpose. Their co-operation is indispensable, their warfare fatal. There 
can be no successful government without the intimate, instinctive co- 
CHdinadon of the organs of life and action. This is not theory, but fact, 
and displays its force as fact, whatever theories may be thrown across 
its track. laving political constitutions must he Darwinian in structure 
and in practice. Society is a living organism and must obey the laws of 
life, sot of mechanics; it must develop. 

AM that progressives ask or desire is permission—in an era when 
®®develojHiMit, w “evolution,” is the scientific word—to interpret the 
Gonrotudcm according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is 
wtogmdon of the fact that a nation .is a living thing and not a tnarMiw> 

Some citizens of this country have never got beyond the Declaration 
cf Independence, signed in Philadelphia, July 4th, 1776. Their bosoms 
swell against George III, but they have no consciousness of the war for 

freedom that is going on to-day. 

The Declaration of Independence did not mention the questions erf 
oar day. It is erf no consequence to us unless we can translate its general 

terns into examples erf the present day and substitute them in some 
vital may for the examples it itself gives, so concrete, so intimately 
ttWed m *** ^^ances of the day in which it was conceived 

42 


WHAT IS PROGRESS? 


and written. It is an eminently practical document, meant for the use 
of practical men; not a thesis for philosophers, but a whip for tyrants; 
not a theory of government, but a program of action. Unless we can 
translate it into the questions of our own day, we are not worthy of it, 
we are not the sons of the sires who acted in response to its challenge. 

What form does the contest between tyranny and freedom take 
to-day? What is the special form of tyranny we now fight? How does it 
endanger the rights of the people, and what do we mean to do in order 
make our contest against it effectual? What are to be the items of our 
new declaration of independence? 

By tyranny, as we now fight it, we mean control of the law, of legis¬ 
lation and adjudication, by organizations which do not represent the 
people, by means which are private and selfish. We mean, specifically, 
the conduct of our affairs and the shaping of our legislation in the 
interest of special bodies of capital and those who organize their use. 
We mean the alliance, for this purpose, of political machines with 
selfish business. We mean the exploitation of the people by legal and 
political means. We have seen many of our governments under these 
influences cease to be representative governments, cease to be govern¬ 
ments representative of the people, and become governments repre¬ 
sentative of special interests, controlled by machines, which in their 
turn are not controlled by the people. 

Sometimes, when I think of the growth of our economic system, it 
seems to me as if, leaving our law just about where it was before any 
of the modem inventions or developments took place, we had simply 
at haphazard extended the family residence, added an office here and 
a workroom there, and a new set of sleeping rooms there, built up 
higher on our foundations, and put out little lean-tos on the side, until 
we have a structure that has no character whatever. Now, the problem 
is to continue to live in the house and yet change it. 

Well, we are architects in our time, and our architects are also 
engineers. We don’t have to stop using a railroad terminal because a 
new station is being built. We don’t have to stop any of the processes 
of our lives because we are rearranging the structures in which we 

43 




WHAT IS PROGRESS? 


conduct those processes. What we have to undertake is to systematize 
the foundations of the house, then to thread all the old parts of the 
structure with the steel which will be laced together in modern fashion, 
accommodated to all the modern knowledge of structural strength and 
elasticity, and then slowly change the partitions, relay the walls, let 
in the light through new apertures, improve the ventilation; until 
finally, a generation or two from now, the scaffolding will be taken 
away, and there will be the family in a great building whose noble 
architecture will at last be disclosed, where men can live as a single 
community, co-operative as in a perfected, co-ordinated beehive, not 
afraid of any storm of nature, not afraid of any artificial storm, any 
imitation of thunder and lightning, knowing that the foundations go 
down to the bedrock of principle, and knowing that whenever they 
please they can change that plan again and accommodate it as they 
please to the altering necessities of their lives. 

But there are a great many men who don’t like the idea. Some wit 
recently said, in view of the fact that most of our American architects 
are trained in a certain Ecole in Paris, that all American architecture 
in recent years was either bizarre or “Beaux Arts.” I think that our 
economic architecture is decidely bizarre; an d I am afraid that there 
is a good deal to learn about matters other than architecture from the 
same source from which our architects .have learned a great many 
things. I don’t mean the School of Fine Arts at Paris, but the experience 
of France; for from the other side of the water men can now hold up 
against us the reproach that we have not adjusted our lives to modern 
conditions to the same extent that they have adjusted theirs. I was 
very much interested in some of the reasons given by our friends across 
the Canadian border for being very shy about the reciprocity arrange¬ 
ments . 1 They said; 4C We are not sure whither these arrangements will 

January 1911, Prescient Tafrs Secretary of State negotiated a reciprocity 
tariff agreement with. C a na d a. After a tatter struggle with Midwestern agrarian 
HBnrgeaits who objected that Taft had surrendered the interests of th#* American 
• farmer, ^Taft secured of the treaty, but only at the cost of widening the 

breach in the Republican Party. The heaviest Mow of all came when Canada re¬ 
fused to approve the treaty, and turned out the Laurier government that had spon- 

44 



WHAT IS PROGRESS? 


lead, and we don’t care to associate too closely with the economic 
conditions of the United States until those conditions are as modem as 
ours . 93 And when I resented it, and asked for particulars, I had, in 
regard to many matters, to retire from the debate. Because I found that 
they had adjusted their regulations of economic development to con¬ 
ditions we had not yet found a way to meet in the United States. 

Well, we have started now at all events. The procession is under way. 
The stand-patter doesn’t know there is a procession. He is asleep in the 
back part of his house. He doesn’t know that the road is resounding 
with the tramp of men going to the front. And when he wakes up, ihe 
country will be empty. He will be deserted, and he will wonder what 
has happened. Nothing has happened. The world has been going on. 
The world has a habit of going on. The world has a habit of leaving 
those behind who won’t go with it. The world has always neglected 
stand-patters. And, therefore, the stand-patter does not excite my in¬ 
dignation; he excites my sympathy. He is going to be so lonely before 
it is all over. And we are good fellows, we are good company; why 
doesn’t he come along? We are not going to do him any harm. We are 
going to show him a good time. We are going to climb the slow road 
until it reaches some upland where the air is fresher, where the whole 
talk of mere politicians is stilled, where men can look in each other’s 
faces and see that there is nothing to conceal, that all they have to talk 
about they are willing to talk about in the open and talk about with 
each other; and whence, looking back over the road, we shall see at 
last that we have fulfilled our promise to mankind. We had said to all 
the world, “America was created to break every kind of monopoly, 
and to set men free, upon a footing of equality, upon a footing of op¬ 
portunity, to match their brains and their energies,” and now we have 
proved that we meant it. 

sored it. Canadian manufacturers who opposed the treaty had effective support 
from British imperialists who were antagonized by careless American talk of the 
treaty’s leading to the annexation of Canada by the United States. 


45 


3 


Freemen Need No Guardians 


There are two theories of government that have been con¬ 
tending with each other ever since government began. One of them is 
the theory which in America is associated with the name of a very 
great man, Alexander Hamilton. A great man, but, in my judgment, 
not a great American. He did not think in terms of American life. 
Hamilton believed that the only people who could understand govern¬ 
ment, and therefore the only people who were qualified to conduct it, 
were the men who had the biggest financial stake in the commercial 
and industrial enterprises of the country. 

That theory, though few have now the hardihood to profess 
it openly, has been the working theory upon which our government 
has lately been conducted. It is astonishing how persistent it is. It is 
amazing how quickly the political party which had Lincoln for its 
first leader,—Lincoln, who not only denied, but in his own person so 
completely disproved the aristocratic theory,—it is amazing how 
quickly that party, founded on faith in the people, forgot the precepts 
of Lincoln and fell under the delusion that the “masses” needed the 
guardianship of “men of affairs.” 

For indeed, if you stop to think about it, nothing could be a 
greater departure from original Americanism, from faith in the ability 
of a confident, resourceful, and independent people, than the discour- 

47 



FREEMEN NEED NO GUARDIANS 


aging doctrine that somebody has got to provide prosperity for the 
rest of us. And yet that is exactly the doctrine on which the government 
of the United States has been conducted lately. Who have been con¬ 
sulted when important measures of government, like tariff acts and 
currency acts, and railroad acts, were under consideration? The people 
whom the tariff chiefly affects, the people for whom the currency is 
supposed to exist, the people who pay the duties and ride on the rail¬ 
roads? Oh, no! What do they know about such matters! The gentlemen 
whose ideas have been sought are the big manufacturers, the bankers 
and the heads of the great railroad combinations. The masters of the 
government of the United States are the combined capitalists and 
manufacturers of the United States. It is written over every intimate 
pag^the records of Congress, it is written all through the history of 
conferences at the White House, that the suggestions of economic 
pokey in this country have come from one source, not from many 
sources The benevolent guardians, the kind-hearted trustees who have 
taken the troubles of government off our hands, have become so con- 
spicuous that almost anybody can write out a list of them. They have 
ome so conspicuous that their names are mentioned upon almost 

5 -T* “? who havc undmat '" 

„ r ^ S T ° f US d ° not force us t0 ^quite them with anony- 
ous y directed gratitude. We know them by name. 

Yo„ U 2T7° U Wa3hington and *7 to get at your government 

nsdly^S “ r rr ***** ,0 ' the m “ 

bankL < men have the bi ^ cst stake,-the big 

«*««. of COnu^oo, 2 

they do not thcmelve, sera I”® b “ a “’ e al « 0 , though 

United States. But T A ° admit lt > are part of the people of the 

chiefly consulted, and paritytothdT ^ ^ gCntlemen bein S 

for, if the government of the IT \ a q bCmg eXcIusiveI y consulted, 

^ peopled t V° ** ^ * 

through the intermediatin ftu h g0t t0 d ° 14 dire ctly and not 
e intermediation of these gentlemen. Every time it has come 

48 


FREEMEN NEED NO GUARDIANS 

to a critical question these gentlemen have been yielded to, and then- 
demands have been treated as the demands that should be followed as 

a matter of course. 

The government of the United States at present is a foster-child of 
the special interests. It is not allowed to have a will of its own. It is 
told at every move: “Don’t do that; you will interfere with our pros¬ 
perity.” And when we ask, “Where is our prosperity lodged?” a certain 
group of gentlemen say, “With us.” The government of the United 
States in recent years has not been administered by the common 
people of the United States. You know just as well as I do,—it is not 
an indictment against anybody, it is a mere statement of the facts,— 
that the-people have stood outside and looked on at their own govern¬ 
ment and that all they have had to determine in past years has been 
which crowd they would look on at; whether they would look on at 
this little group or that little group who had managed to get the 
control of affairs in its hands. Have you ever heard, for example, of 
any hearing before any great committee of the Congress in which the 
people of the country as a whole were represented, except it may be 
by the Congressmen themselves? The men who appear at those meet¬ 
ings in order to argue for or against a schedule in the tariff, for this 
measure or against that measure, are men who represent special inter¬ 
ests. They may represent them very honestly, they may intend no 
wrong to their fellow-citizens, but they are speaking from the point of 
view always of a small portion of the population. I have sometimes 
wondered why men, particularly men of means, men who didn’t have 
to work for their living, shouldn’t constitute themselves attorneys for 
the people, and every time a hearing is held before a committee of 
Congress should not go and ask: “Gentlemen, in considering these 
things suppose you consider the whole country? Suppose you consider 
the citizens of the United States?” 

I don’t want a smug lot of experts to sit down behind closed doors 
in Washington and play Providence to me. There is a Providence to 
which I am perfectly willing to submit. But as for other men setting 
up as Providence over myself, I seriously object. I have never met a 

49 



FREEMEN NEED NO GUARDIANS 


political savior in the flesh, and I never expect to meet one- i am re¬ 
minded of Gelett Burgess 5 verses: 


I never saw a purple cow, 

I never hope to see one, 
But this Fll tell you anyhow, 
I’d rather see than be one. 


That is the way I feel about this saving of my fellow-countrymen. 
I d rather see a savior of the United States than set up to be one; be¬ 
cause I have found out, I have actually found out, that men I consult 
with know more than I do,—especially if I consult with enough of 
them. I never came out of a committee meeting or a conference with- 
out^eii^ inore ^ the'question that was under discussion than I had 
seen when I went in. And that to my mind is an image of government. 
I am not wiling to be under the patronage of the trusts, no matter 

how providential a government presides over the process of their control 
of my life. 

I am one of those who absolutely reject the trustee theory, the guard- 
p theory. I have never found a man who knew how to take care 
of me, and, reasoning from that point out, I conjecture that there isn’t 
any man who knows how to take care of all the people of the United 
es. suspect that the people of the United States understand their 
own interests better than any group of men in the confines of the 
country understand them. The men who are sweating blood to get 
to foothold m the world of endeavor understand the conditions of 
Wss m the United States very much better than the men who have 
amved and are at the top. They know what the thing is that they are 

‘T ^ ***** ^ iS t0 Start a new ex¬ 
pose. They know how far they have to search for credit that will put 

ind ? CVen ^ thC men who havc already built up 

industry m this country. They know that somewhere, by somebody the 
development erf industry is being controlled. 

do not say this with the slightest desire to create any prejudice 

50 



FREEMEN NEED NO GUARDIANS 

against wealth; on the contrary, I should be ashamed of myself if I 
excited class feeling of any kind. But I do mean to suggest this: That 
the wealth of the country has, in recent years, come from particular 
sources; it has come from those sources which have built up monopoly. 
Its point of view is a special point of view. It is the point of view of 
those men who do not wish that the people should determine their 
own affairs, because they do not believe that the people’s judgment is 
sound. They want to be commissioned to take care of the United States 
and of the people of the United States, because they believe that they, 
better than anybody else, understand the interests of the United States. 
I do not challenge their character; I challenge their point of view. We 
cannot afford to be governed as we have been governed in the last 
generation, by men who occupy so narrow, so prejudiced, so limited a 
point of view. 

The government of our country cannot be lodged in any special 
class. The policy of a great nation cannot be tied up with any particu¬ 
lar set of interests. I want to say, again and again, that my arguments 
do not touch the character of the men to whom I am opposed. I believe 
that the very wealthy men who have got their money by certain kinds 
of corporate enterprise have closed in their horizon, and that they do 
not see and do not understand the rank and file of the people. It is for 
that reason that I want to break up the little coterie that has deter¬ 
mined what the government of the nation should do. The list of the 
men who used to determine what New Jersey should and should not 
do did not exceed half a dozen, and they were always the same men. 
These very men now are, some of them, frank enough to admit that 
New Jersey has finer energy in her because more men are consulted 
and the whole field of action is widened and liberalized. We have got 
to relieve our government from the domination of special classes, not 
because these special classes are bad, necessarily, but because no special 
can understand the interests of a great community. 

I believe, as I believe in nothing else, in the average integrity and 
the average intelligence of the American people, and I do not believe 

5 1 


FREEMEN NEED NO GUARDIANS 


that the intelligence of America can be put into commission anywhere. 
I do not believe that there is any group of men of any kind to whom 
we can afford to give that kind of trusteeship. 

I will not live under trustees if I can help it. No group of men less 
than the majority has a right to tell me how I have got to live in 
America. I will submit to the majority, because I have been trained to 
do it,—though I may sometimes have my private opinion even of the 
majority. I do not care how wise, how patriotic, the trustees may be, 
I have never heard of any group of men in whose hands I am will ing 
to lodge the liberties of America in trust. 

If any part of our people want to be wards, if they want to have 
guardians put over them, if they want to be taken care of, if they want 
to be children, patronized by the government, why, I am sorry, be¬ 
cause it will sap the manhood of America. But I don’t believe they do. 

I believe they want to stand on the firm foundation of law and right 
and take care of themselves. I, for my part, don’t want to belong to a 
nation, I believe that I do not belong to a nation, that needs to be 
taken care of by guardians. I want to belong to a nation, and I am 
proud that I do belong to a nation, that knows how to take care of 
itself. If I thought that the American people were reckless, were igno¬ 
rant, were vindictive, I might shrink from putting the government into 
their hands. But the beauty of democracy is that when you are reckless 
you destroy your own established conditions of life; when you are vin¬ 
dictive, you wreak vengeance upon yourself; the whole stability of a 
democratic polity rests upon the fact that every interest is every man’s 
interest. 

The theory that the men of biggest affairs, whose field of operation 
is the widest, are the proper men to advise the government is, I am 
wiling to admit, rather a plausible theory. If my business covers the 
rated States not only, but covers the world, it is to be presumed that 
I have a pretty wide scope in my vision of business. But the flaw is that 
it is my own business that I have a vision of, and not the business of 
the men who he outside of the scope of the plans I have made for a 
profit out of the particular transactions I am connected with. And you 

52 



FREEMEN NEED NO GUARDIANS 


can’t, by putting together a large number of men who understand 
their own business, no matter how large it is, make up a body of men 
who will understand the business of the nation as contrasted with 
their own interest. 

In a former generation, half a century ago, there were a great many 
men associated with the government whose patriotism we are not 
privileged to deny nor to question, who intended to serve the people, 
but had become so saturated with the point of view of a governing class 
that it was impossible for them to see America as the people of America 
themselves saw it. Then there arose that interesting figure, the immortal 
figure of the great Lincoln, who stood up declaring that the politicians, 
the men who had governed this country, did not see from the point of 
view of the people. When I think of that tall, gaunt figure rising in 
Illinois, I have a picture of a man free, unentangled, unassociated with 
the governing influences of the country, ready to see things with an 
open eye, to see them steadily, to see them whole, to see them as the 
men he rubbed shoulders with and associated with saw them. What 
the country needed in 1860 was a leader who understood and repre¬ 
sented the thought of the whole people, as contrasted with that of a 
class which imagined itself the guardian of the country’s welfare. 

Now, likewise, the trouble with our present political condition is that 
we need some man who has not been associated with the governing 
classes and the governing influences of this country to stand up and 
speak for us; we need to hear a voice from the outside calling upon the 
American people to assert again their rights and prerogatives in the 
possession of their own government. 

My thought about both Mr. Taft and Mr. Roosevelt is that of en¬ 
tire respect, but these gentlemen have been so intimately associated 
with the powers that have been determining the policy of this govern¬ 
ment for almost a generation, that they cannot look at the a ff ai r s of 
the country with the view of a new age and of a changed set of circum¬ 
stances. They sympathize with the people; their hearts no doubt go 
out to the great masses of unknown men in this country; but their 
thought is in close, habitual association with those who have framed 

53 


FREEMEN NEED NO GUARDIANS 


the policies of the country during all our lifetime. Those men have 
framed the protective tariff, have developed the trusts, have co-ordi¬ 
nated and ordered all the great economic forces of this country in such 
fashion that nothing but an outside force breaking in can disturb their 
domination and control. It is with this in mind, I believe, that the 
country can say to these gentlemen: “We do not deny your integrity; 
we do not deny your purity of purpose; but the thought of the people 
of the United States has not yet penetrated to your consciousness. You 
are willing to act for the people, but you are not willing to act through 
the people. Now we propose to act for ourselves.” 

I sometimes think that the men who are now governing us are un- 
coMeious nf the-chams in which they are-held. I do not believe that 
men such as we know, among our public men at least—most of them— 
have deliberately put us into leading strings to the special interests. 
The special interests have grown up. They have grown up by processes 
which at last, happily, we are beginning to understand. And, having 
grown up, having occupied the seats of greatest advantage nearest the 
ear of those who are conducting government, having contributed the 
money which was necessary to the elections, and therefore having been 
kindly thought of after elections, there has closed around the govern¬ 
ment of the United States a very interesting, a very able, a very ag¬ 
gressive coterie of gentlemen who are most definite and explicit in 
their ideas as to what they want. 

They don't have to consult us as to what they want. They don't have 
to resort to anybody. They know their plans, and therefore they know 
what will be convenient for them. It may be that they have really 
thought what they have said they thought; it may be that they know 
so little of the history of economic development and of the interests of 
the United States as to believe that their leadership is indispensable for 
our prosperity and development. I don't have to prove that they be- 
Heve that, because they themselves admit it. I have heard them admit 
it on many occasions. 

I want to say to you very frankly that I do not fed vindictive about 

54 



FREEMEN NEED NO GUARDIANS 


it. Some of the men who have exercised this control are excellent 
fellows; they really believe that the prosperity of the country depends 
upon them. They really believe that if the leadership of economic 
development in this country dropped from their hands, the rest of us 
are too muddle-headed to undertake the task. They not only compre¬ 
hend the power of the United States within their grasp, but they 
comprehend it within their imagination. They are honest men, they 
have just as much right to express their views as I have to express mine 
or you to express yours, but it is just about time that we examined their 
views for ourselves and determined ther validity. 

As a matter of fact, their thought does not cover the processes of 
their own undertakings. As a university president, I learned that the 
men who dominate our manufacturing processes could not conduct 
their business for twenty-four hours without the assistance of the ex¬ 
perts with whom the universities were supplying them. Modern in¬ 
dustry depends upon technical knowledge; and all that these gentlemen 
did was to manage the external features of great combinations and 
their financial operation, which had very little to do with the intimate 
skill with which the enterprises were conducted. I know men not 
catalogued in the public prints, men not spoken of in public discussion, 
who are the very bone and sinew of the industry of the United States. 

Do our masters of industry speak in the spirit and interest even of 
those whom they employ? When men ask me what I think about the 
labor question and laboring men, I feel that I am being asked what I 
know about the vast majority of the people, and I feel as if I were 
being asked to separate myself, as belonging to a particular class, from 
that great body of my fellow-citizens who sustain and conduct the 
enterprises of the country. Until we get away from that point of view 
it will be impossible to have a free government. 

I have listened to some very honest and eloquent orators whose 
sentiments were noteworthy for this: that when they spoke of the 
people, they were not thinking of themselves; they were thinking of 
somebody whom they were commissioned to take care of. They were 
always planning to do things for the American people, and I have seen 

55 



FREEMEN NEED NO GUARDIANS 


them visibly shiver when it was suggested that they arrange to have 
something done by the people for themselves. They said, “What do 
they know about it?” I always feel like replying, “What do you know 
about it? You know your own interest, but who has told you our inter¬ 
ests, and what do you know about them?** For the business of every 
leader of government is to hear what the nation is saying and to know 
what the nation is enduring. It is not his business to judge for the 
nation, but to judge through the nation as its spokesman and voice. I 
do not believe that this country could have safely allowed a continua¬ 
tion of the policy of the men who have viewed affairs in any other light. 

The hypothesis under which we have been ruled is that of govern¬ 
ment through a board of trustees, through a selected number of the 
tag business isms of the.country wboJmowLa. lot that the rest. of .us, do 
not know, and who take it for granted that our ignorance would wreck 
the prosperity of the country. The idea of the Presidents we have 
recently had has teen that they were Presidents of a National Board 
of Trustees. That is not my idea. I have been president of one board of 
trustees, and I do not care to have another on my hands. I want to be 
President of the people of the United States. There was many a time 
when 1 was president of the board of trustees of a university when the 
undergraduate knew more than the trustees did; and it has been in 
m} thought ever since that if I could have dealt directly with the 
people who constituted Princeton University' I could have carried it 
forward much faster than I could dealing with a board of trustees. 

Mark you, 1 am not saying that these leaders knew that they were 
doing us an evil, or that they intended to do us an evil. For my part, I 
am very much more afraid of the man who does a bad thing and does 
not know it is bad than of the man who does a bad thing and knows it 
is had; because I think that in public affairs stupidity is more dangerous 
than knavery, because harder to fight and dislodge. If a man does not 
know enough to know what the consequences are going to be to the 
then he cannot govern the country in a way that Is for its 
These gentlemen, whatever may have been their intentions, 
efi the government up with the men wiio control the finances. 

56 



FREEMEN NEED NO GUARDIANS 

They may have done it innocently, or they may have done it corruptly, 
without affecting my argument at all. And they themselves cannot 
escape from that alliance. 

Here, for example, is the old question of compaign funds: If I take 
a hundred thousand dollars from a group of men representing a par¬ 
ticular interest that has a big stake in a certain schedule of the tariff, 
I take it with the knowledge that those gentlemen will expect me not 
to forget their interest in that schedule, and they will take it as a point 
of implicit honor that I should see to it that they are not damaged by 
too great a change in that schedule. Therefore, if I take their money, 
I am bound to them by a tacit implication of honor. Perhaps there is 
no ground for objection to this situation so long as the function of 
government is conceived to be to look after the trustees of prosperity, 
who in turn will look after the people; but on any other theory than 
that of trusteeship no interested campaign contributions can be tolerated 
for a moment,—save those of the millions of citizens who thus support 
the doctrines they believe and the men whom they recognized as their 
spokesmen. 

I tell you the men I am interested in are the men who, under the 
conditions we have had, never had their voices heard, who never got 
a line in the newspapers, who never got a moment on the platform, 
who never had access to the ears of Governors or Presidents or of any¬ 
body who was responsible for the conduct of public affairs, but who 
went silently and patiently to their work every day carrying the burden 
of the world. How are they to be understood by the masters of finance, 
if only the masters of finance are consulted? 

That is what I mean when I say, “Bring the government back to 
the people.” I do not mean anything demagogic; I do not mean to 
talk as if we wanted a great mass of men to rush in and destroy some¬ 
thing. That is not the idea. I want the people to come in and take 
possession of their own premises; for I hold that the government be¬ 
longs to the people, and that they have a right to that intimate access 
to it which will determine every turn of its policy. 

57 


FREEMEN NEED NO GUARDIANS 


America is never going to submit to guardianship. America is never 
going to choose thraldom instead of freedom. Look what there is to 
decide I There is the tariff question. Can the tariff question be decided 
in favor of the people, so long as the monopolies are the chief counselors 
at Washington? There is the currency question. Are we going to settle 
the currency question so long as the government listens only to the 
counsel of those who command the banking situation? 

Then there is the question of conservation. What is our fear about 
conservation? The hands that are being stretched out to monopolize 
our forests, to prevent or pre-empt the use of our great power-producing 
streams—the hands that are being stretched into the bowels of the earth 
to take possession of the great riches that lie hidden in Alaska and 

elsewhere in .the incom p arable- domain of.the.UnitedStates,.are the 

hands of monopoly. Are these men to continue to stand at the elbow 
of government and tel us how we are to save ourselves,—from them¬ 
selves? You can not settle the question of conservation while monopoly 
is dose to the ears of these who govern. And the question of conserva¬ 
tion is a great deal bigger t h a n , the question of saving our forests and 
our mineral resources and our waters; it is as big as the life and happi¬ 
ness and strength and elasticity and hope of our people. 

Thane are tasks awaiting the government of the United States which 
it cannot perform until every pulse of that government beats in unison 
with the needs and the domes of the whole body of the American 
people. Shall we not give the people access of sympathy, access of 
authority, to the msmimcntalidcs which are to be indispensable to 
their lives? 


58 


4 

Life Gomes from the Soil 


When I look back on the processes of history, when I survey 
the genesis of America, I see this written over every page: that the 
nations are renewed from the bottom, not from the top; that the genius 
which springs up from the ranks of unknown men is the genius which 
renews the youth and energy of the people. Everything I know about 
history, every bit of experience and observation that has contributed 
to my thought, has confirmed me in the conviction that the real wisdom 
of human life is compounded out of the experiences of ordinary men. 
The utility, the vitality, the fruitage of life does not come from the top 
to the bottom; it comes, like the natural growth of a great tree, from 
the soil, up through the trunk into the branches to the foliage and the 
fruit. The great struggling unknown masses of the men who are at the 
base of everything are the dynamic force that is lifting the levels of 
society. A nation is as great, and only as great, as her rank and file. 

So the first and chief need of this nation of ours to-day is to 
include in the partnership of government all those great bodies of 
unnamed men who are going to produce our future leaders and renew 
the future energies of America. And as I confess that, as I confess my 
belief in the common man, I know what I am saying. The man who 
is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it. The man who 
is in the m€l<Se knows what blows are being struck and what blood is 
being drawn. The man who is on the make is the judge of what is 

59 


LIFE COMES FROM THE SOIL 


happening in America, not the man who has made good; not the man 

who has emerged from the flood; not the man who is standing on the 
bank looking on, hut the man who is struggling for his life and for the 
live of these who are dearer to Mm than Mmself. That is the man 
whose judgment will tell you what is going on in America; that is the 
man by whose judgment I, for one, wish to be guided. 

We have had the wrong jury; we have had the wrong group, 
—no, I will not say the wrong group, but too small a group,—in con¬ 
trol of the policies of the United States. The average man has not been 
consulted, and Ms heart had begun to sink for fear he never would be 
consulted again. Therefore, we have got to organize a government 
whose sympathies will he open to the whole body of the people of the 

United States, a governzneat which will consult as large.a proportion 

of the people of the United States as posable before it acts. Because the 
great problem of government is to know what the average man is 
experiencing and is th in ki n g about. Most of us are average men; very 
few of us rise, except by fortunate accident, above the general level of 
the community about us; and therefore the man who thinly common 
thoughts, the man who has had common experiences, is almost always 
the man who interprets America aright. Isn’t that the reason that we 
are proud of such stories as the story of Abraham Lincoln,—a man 
who rose out of the ranks and interpreted America better than any 
man had interpreted it who had risen out of the privileged classes or 
the educated classes erf America? 

The hope of the United States in the present and in the future is the 
same that it has always been: it is the hope and confidence that out of 
mknown homes will come men who will constitute themselves the 
masters erf industry and of politics. The average hopefulness, the aver¬ 
age welfare, the average enterprise, the average imtiative, of the Urnted 
States are the only things that make it rich. We are not rich because a 
few gentlemen direct our industry; we are rich because of our own 
intelligence and our own industry. America does not consist of men 
who get their names into the newspapers; America does not consist 
poetically of the men who set themselves up to be political leaders; 



LIFE COMES FROM THE SOIL 

she does not consist of the men who do most of her talking,—they are 
important only so far as they speak for that great voiceless multitude 
of men who constitute the great body and the saving force of the 
nation. Nobody who cannot speak the common thought, who does not 
move by the common impulse, is the man to speak for America, or for 
any of her future purposes. Only he is fit to speak who knows the 
thoughts of the great body of citizens, the men who go about their 
business every day, the men who toil from morning till night, the men 
who go home tired in the evenings, the men who are carrying on the 
things we are so proud of. 

You know how it thrills our blood sometimes to think how all the 
nations of the earth wait to see what America is going to do with her 
power, her physical power, her enormous resources, her enormous 
wealth. The nations hold their breath to see what this young country 
will do with her young unspoiled strength; we cannot help but be 
proud that we are strong. But what has made us strong? The toil of 
m i lli ons of men, the toil of men who do not boast, who are inconspicu¬ 
ous, but who live their lives humbly from day to day; it is the great body 
of toilers that constitutes the might of America. It is one of the glories of 
our land that nobody is able to predict from what family, from what 
region, from what race, even, the leaders of the country are going to 
come. The great leaders of this country have not come very often from 
the established, “successful” families. 

I remember speaking at a school not long ago where I understood 
that almost all the young men were the sons of very rich people, and I 
told them I looked upon them with a great deal of pity, because, I said: 
“Most of you fellows are doomed to obscurity. You will not do any¬ 
thing. You will never try to do anything, and with all the great tasks 
of the country waiting to be done, probably you are the very men who 
will decline to do them. Some man who has been c up against it, 5 some 
man who has come out of the crowd, somebody who has had the whip 
of necessity laid on his back, will emerge out of the crowd, will show 
that he understands the crowd, understands the interests of the nation, 
united and not separated, and will stand up and lead us. 95 

61 



LIFE COMES FROM THE SOIL 


If I may speak of my own experience, I have found audiences made 
up of the “common people 33 quicker to take a point, quicker to under¬ 
stand an argument, quicker to discern a tendency and to comprehend 
a principle, than many a college class that I have lectured to,—not 
because the college class lacked the intelligence, but because college 
boys are not in contact with the realities of life, while “common” 
citizens are in contact with the actual life of day by day; you do not 
have to explain to them what touches them to the quick. 

There is one illustration of the value of the constant renewal of 
society from the bottom that has always interested me profoundly. The 
only reason why government did not suffer dry rot in the Middle Ages 
under the aristocratic system which then prevailed was that so many 
of the men who were efficient instruments of governments were drawn 
from the church,—from that great religious., body which was then the 
only church, that body which we now distinguish from other religious 
bodies as the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church 
was then, as it is now, a great democracy. There was no peasant so 
humble that he might not become a priest, and no priest so obscure 
that he might not become Pope of Christendom; and every chancellery 
in Europe, every court in Europe, was ruled by these learned, trained 
and accomplished men,—the priesthood of that great and dominant 
body. What kept government alive in the Middle Ages was this con¬ 
stant rise of the sap from the bottom, from the rank and file of the 
great body of the people through the open channels of the priesthood. 
That, it seems to me, is one of the most interesting and convincing 
illustrations that could possibly be adduced of the thing that I am 
talking about. 

Tte only way that government is kept pure is by keeping these 
channels open, so that nobody may deem himself so humble as not to 
constitute a part of the body politic, so that there will constantly be 
coming new Mood into the veins of the body politic; so that no man is 
so obscure that he may not break the crust erf any class he may belong 
to, may not spring up to higher levels and be counted among the 
leaders of the state. Anything that depresses, anything that makes the 

§2 



X, IF E COMES FROM THE SOIL 


organization greater than (lie man, anything that blocks, discourages, 
dismays the humble man, is against all the principles of progress. 
When I see alliances formed, as they arc now being formed, by success¬ 
ful men of business with successful organizers of politics, I know that 
something has been done that checks the vitality and progress of society. 
Such an alliance, made at the top, is an alliance made to depress the 
levels, to hold them where they are, if not to sink them; and, therefore, 
it is the constant business of good politics to break up such partner¬ 
ships, to re-establish and reopen the connections between the great 
body of the people and the offices of government. 

To-day, when our government has so far passed into the hands of 
special interests; to-day, when the doctrine is implicitly avowed that 
only select classes have the equipment necessary for carrying on govern¬ 
ment; to-day, when so many conscientious citizens, smitten with the 
scene of social wrong and suffering, have fallen victims to the fallacy 
that benevolent government can be meted out to the people by kind- 
hearted trustees of prosperity and guardians of the welfare of dutiful 
employees,—to-day, supremely, does it behoove this nation to remem¬ 
ber that a people shall be saved by the power that sleeps in its own 
deep bosom, or by none; shall be renewed in hope, in conscience, in 
strength, by waters welling up from its own sweet, perennial springs. 
Not from above; not by patronage of its aristocrats. The flower does 
not bear the root, but the root the flower. Everything that blooms in 
beauty in the air of heaven draws its fairness, its vigor, from its roots. 
Nothing living can blossom into fruitage unless through nourishing 
stalks deep-planted in the common soil. The rose is merely the evidence 
of the vitality of the root; and the real source of its beauty, the very 
blush that it wears upon its tender cheek, comes from those silent 
sources of life that lie hidden in the chemistry of the soil. Up from that 
soil, up from the silent bosom of the earth, rise the currents of life and 
energy. Up from the common soil, up from the quiet heart of the 
people, rise joyously to-day streams of hope and determination bound 
to renew the face of the earth in glory. 

I tell you, the so-called radicalism of our times is simply the effort 

63 



life comes from the soil 


of nature to release the generous energies of our people. This great 
American people is at bottom just, virtuous, and hopeful; the roots of 
its being are in the soil of what is lovely, pure, and of good report, and 
the need of the hour is just that radicalism that will clear a way for the 
realization of the aspirations of a sturdy race. 


64 


5 


The Parliament of the People 


For a long time this country of ours has lacked one of the 
institutions which freemen have always and everywhere held funda¬ 
mental. For a long time there has been no sufficient opportunity of 
counsel among the people; no place and method of talk, of exchange 
of opinion, of parley. Communities have outgrown the folk-moot and 
the town-meeting. Congress, in accordance with the genius of the land, 
which asks for action and is impatient of words,—Congress has become 
an institution which does its work in the privacy of committee rooms 
and not on the floor of the Chamber; a body that makes laws,—a 
legislature; not a body that debates,—not a parliament. Party con¬ 
ventions afford little or no opportunity for discussion; platforms are 
privately manufactured and adopted with a whoop. It is partly because 
citizens have foregone the taking of counsel together that the unholy 
alliance of bosses and Big Business have been able to assume to govern 
for us. 

I conceive it to be one of the needs of the hour to restore the 
processes of common counsel, and to substitute them for the processes 
of private arrangement which now determine the policies of cities, 
states, and nation. We must leam, we freemen, to meet, as our fathers 
did, somehow, somewhere, for consultation. There must be discussion 
and debate, in which all freely participate. 

It must be candid debate, and it must have for its honest 

65 




THE PARLIAMENT OF THE PEOPLE 

purpose the clearing up of questions and the establishing of the 

Too much political discussion is not to honest purpose, but only for* t:tic 

confounding of an opponent. I am often reminded, when poli'C* 0 ^ 

debate gets warm and we begin to hope that the truth is making 

on the reason of those who have denied it, of the way a deb^*:^ %n 

Virginia once seemed likely to end: 

When I was a young man studying in Charlottesville , 1 there *w^ :re 
two factions in the Democratic party in the State of Virgi Ilia 
which were having a pretty hot contest with each other. In one of ‘tln.c 
counties one of these factions had practically no following at all. A. on an 
named Massey, one of its redoubtable debaters, though a little, slim, 
insignificant-looking person, sent a messenger up into this county 
challenged the opposition to debate with him. They didn’t quit^ like 
the idea, but they were too proud to decline, so they put up thelir t>ost 
debater, a big, good-natured man whom everybody was familar wdtrh 
as “Torn, 3 * and it was arranged that Massey should have the first hour 
and that Tom WTatever-his-name-was should succeed him the xxe:>ct 
hour. When the occasion came, Massey, with his characteristic shre^w'd- 
ness, began to get underneath the skins of the audience, and he faja-d:ra*t 
made more than half his speech before it was evident that he -was 
getting the hostile crowd with him; whereupon one of Tom’s partisans 
in the bade erf the room, seeing how things were going, cried out : 
“Tom, call Mm a liar and make it a fight I” 

Now, that kind erf debate, that spirit in discussion, gets us nowlaere. 
Our national affaire are too serious, they lie too close to the well-toeing 
erf each one of us, to excuse our talking about them except in earnestness 
and candor and willingness to speak and listen with open minds. It: is 
a misfortune that attends the party system that in the heat of a cam¬ 
paign partisan passions are so aroused that we cannot have frank: dis¬ 
cussion. Yet I am sure that I observe, and that all citizens must obser ve, 
an almost startling change in the temper of the people in this resjpect:. 
The campaign just closed was markedly different from others that had 

dVh^mainl879, butLedfit ijo 

Dec emb er 1880 because of poor hralriv 

66 




THE PARLIAMENT OF THE PEOPLE 

preceded it in the degree to which party considerations were forgotten 
in the seriousness of the things we had to discuss as common citizens 
of an endangered country. 

There is astir in the air of America something that I for one never 
saw before, never felt before. I have been going to political meetings 
all my life, though not all my life playing an immodestly conspicuous 
part in them; and there is a spirit in our political meetings now that I 
never saw before. It hasn’t been very many years, let me say for ex¬ 
ample, that women attended political meetings. And women are at¬ 
tending political meetings now not simply because there is a woman 
question in politics; they are attending them because the modern 
political meeting is not like the political meeting of five or ten years 
ago. That was a mere ratification rally. That was a mere occasion for 
“whooping it up” for somebody. That was merely an occasion upon 
which one party was denounced unreasonably and the other was 
lauded unreasonably. No party has ever deserved quite the abuse that 
each party has got in turn, and nobody has ever deserved the praise 
that both parties have got in turn. The old political meeting was a 
wholly irrational performance; it was got together for the purpose of 
saying things that were chiefly not so and that were known by those 
who heard them not to be so, and were simply to be taken as a tonic 
in order to produce cheers. 

But I am very much mistaken in the temper of my fellow-countrymen 
if the meetings I have seen in the last two years bear any resemblance 
to those older meetings. Men now get together in a political meeting 
in order to hear things of the deepest consequence discussed. And you 
will find almost as many Republicans in a Democratic meeting as you 
will find Democrats in a Republican meeting; the spirit of frank dis¬ 
cussion, of common counsel, is abroad. 

Good will it be for the country if the interest in public concerns 
manifested so widely and so sincerely be not suffered to expire with 
the election! Why should political debate go on only when somebody 
is to be elected? Why should it be confined to campaign time? 

There is a movement on foot in which, in common with many men 

67 


THE PARLIAMENT OF THE PEOPLE 

and wonsen who love their country, I am greatly interested, the 
movement to open the schoolhouse to the grown-up people in order 
that they may gather and talk over the affairs of the neighborhood 
and the state. There are sehoolhouses all over the land which are not 
used by the teachers and children in the summer months, which are 
not used in the winter time in the evening for school purposes. These 
b uildin gs belong to the public. Why not insist everywhere that they 
lx used as places of discussion, such as of old took place in the town- 
meetings to which everybody went and where every public officer was 
freely called to account? The schoolhouse, which belongs to all of us, 
is a natural place in which to gather to consult over our common affairs. 

I was very much interested in the remark of a fellow-citizen of ours 
who had been bom on the other side of the water. He said that not 
long ago he wandered into one of those neighborhood schoolhouse 
meetings, and there found himself among people who were discussing 
matters in which they were all interested; and when he came out he 
said to me: C T have been living in America now ten years, and to-night 
for the first time I saw America as I had imagined it to be. This gather¬ 
ing together of men of all sorts upon a perfect footing of equality to 
discuss frankly with one another what concerned them all,—that is 
what I dreamed America was.® 5 

That set me to t hinkin g. He hadnfr seen the America he had come 
to find until that night. Had he not felt like a neighbor? Had men not 
consulted him? He had felt like an outsider. Had there been no little 
circles in which public affairs were discussed? 

You know that the great mekmg-pot of America, the place where we 
are all made Americans of, is the public school, where men of every 
race and of every origin and of every station in life send their children, 
or ought to send their children, and where, being mixed together, the 
youngsters are all infused with the American spirit and developed into 
American men and American women. When, in addition to sending 
our children to school to paid teachers, we go to school to one another 
in those same sehTOlhouses, then we shall begin more fully to realize 
than we ever have realized before what American life is. And let me 

68 




THE PARLIAMENT OF THE PEOPLE 


tell you this, confidentially, that wherever you find school boards that 
object to opening the schoolhouses in the evening for public meetings 
of every proper sort, you had better look around for some politician 
who is objecting to it; because the thing that cures bad politics is talk 
by the neighbors. The thing that brings to light the concealed circum¬ 
stances of our political life is the talk of the neighborhood; and if you 
can get the neighbors together, get them frankly to tell everything they 
know, then your politics, your ward politics, and your city politics, and 
your state politics, too, will be turned inside out,—in the way they 
ought to be. Because the chief difficulty our politics has suffered is that 
the inside didn’t look like the outside. Nothing clears the air like frank 
discussion. 

One of the valuable lessons of my life was due to the fact that at a 
comparatively early age in my experience as a public speaker I had 
the privilege of speaking in Cooper Union in New York. The audience 
in Cooper Union is made up of every kind of man and woman, from 
the poor devil who simply comes in to keep warm up to the man who 
has come in to take a serious part in the discussion of the evening. I 
want to tell you this, that in the questions that are asked there after 
the speech is over, the most penetrating questions that I have ever 
had addressed to me came from some of the men who were the least 
well-dressed in the audience, came from the plain fellows, came from 
the fellows whose muscle was daily up against the whole struggle of 
life. They asked questions which went to the heart of the business and 
put me to my mettle to answer them. I felt as if these questions came 
as a voice out of life itself, not a voice out of any school less severe than 
the severe school of experience. And what I like about this social 
centre idea of the schoolhouse is that there is the place where the ordi¬ 
nary fellow is going to get his innings, going to ask his questions, going 
to express his opinions, going to convince these who do not realize the 
vigor of America that the vigor of America pulses in the blood of every 
true American, and that the only place he can find the true American 
is in this clearing-house of absolutely democratic opinion. 

No one m a n understands the United States. I have met some gentle- 

69 



THE PARLIAMENT OF THE PEOPLE 


men who professed they did. I have even met some business men who 
professed they held in their own single comprehension the business of 
the United States; but I am educated enough to know that they do not. 
Education has this useful effect, that it narrows of necessity the circles 
of one’s egotism. No student knows his subject. The most he knows is 
where and how to find out the things he does not know with regard to it. 
That is also the position of a statesman. No statesman understands the 
whole country. He should make it his business to find out where he will 
get the information necessary to understand at least a part of it at a 
rime when dealing with complex affairs. What we need is a universal 
revival of common counsel. 

I have sometimes reflected on the lack of a body of public opinion 
in our dries, and once I contrasted the habits of the city man with 
those of the countryman in a way which got me into trouble. I de¬ 
scribed what a man in a dry generally did when he got into a public 
vefaide or sat in a public place. He doesn’t talk to anybody, but he 
plunges his head into a newspaper and presently experiences a reaction 
which he calls his opinion, but which is not an opinion at all, being 
merely the impression that a piece of news or an editorial has made 
upon him. He cannot be said to be participating in public opinion at 
ail untri he has laid his mind alongside the minds of his neighbors and 

tosed with them the inddents of the day and the tendencies of the 

ti m e. 

Where I got into trouble was, that I ventured on a comparison. I 
*ud that public opinion was not typified on the streets of a busy city 
but was typified around the stove in a country store where men sat 

^ WCd t0baCC ° ^ Spat into a s ™dust box, and made 
aL^T Y ^ thC nei Sbborhood opinion both 

sonKrT^fT ^° d CVentS; and tten ’ ^advertently, I added this philo- 
p reflection, that, whatever might be said against the chewing 

££££ - f T ,: 

Between sentences. Ever since then I have been renresent^ 



THE PARLIAMENT OF THE PEOPLE 

The reason that some city men are not more catholic in their ideas 
is that they do not share the opinion of the country, and the reason that 
some countrymen are rustic is that they do not know the opinion of the 
city; they are both hampered by their limitations. I heard the other 
day of a woman who had lived all her life in a city and in an hotel. 
She made a first visit to the country last summer, and spent a week in 
a farmhouse. Asked afterward what had interested her most about her 
experience, she replied that it was hearing the farmer “page hi s cows 
A very urban point of view with regard to a common rustic occur¬ 
rence, and yet that language showed the s h arp, the inelastic limits of 
her thought. She was provincial in the extreme; she thought even more 
narrowly than in the terms of a city; she thought in the terms of an 
hotel. In proportion as we are co nfin ed within the walls of one hostelry 
or one city or one state, we are provincial. We can do nothing more 
to advance our country’s welfare than to bring the various communi¬ 
ties within the counsels of the nation. The real difficulty of our nation 
has been that not enough of us realized that the matters we discussed 
were matters of common concern. We have talked as if we had to 
serve now this part of the country and again that part, now this interest 
and again that interest; as if all interests were not linked together, 
provided we understood them and knew how they were related to one 
another. 

If you would know what makes the great river as it nears the sea, 
you must travel up the stream. You must go up into the hills and back 
into the forests and see the little rivulets, the little streams, all gathering 
in hidden places to swell the great body of water in the channel. And 
so with the making of public opinion: Back in the country, on the 
farms, in the shops, in the h a ml ets, in the homes of cities, in the school- 
houses, where men get together and are frank and true with one an¬ 
other, there come trickling down the streams which are to make the 
mighty force of the river, the river which is to drive all the enterprises of 
human life as it sweeps on into the great common sea of humanity. 

I feel nothing so much as the intensity of the co mmo n man. I can 
pick out in any audience the men who are at ease in their fortunes: 

71 


THE PARLIAMENT OF THE PEOPLE 


they are seeing a public man go through his stunts. But there are in 
every crowd other men who are not doing that,—men who are listening 
as if they were waiting to hear if there were somebody who could speak 
the thing that is stirring in their own hearts and minds. It makes a 
man’s heart ache to think that he cannot be sure that he is doing it for 
them; to wonder whether they are longing for something that he does 
not understand. He prays God that something will bring into his con¬ 
sciousness what is in theirs, so that the whole nation may feel at last 
released from its dumbness, feel at last that there is no invisible force 
holding it back from its goal, feel at last that there is hope and confi¬ 
dence and that the road may be trodden as if we were brothers, shoulder 
to shoulder, not asking each other anything about differences of class, 
not contesting for any selfish advance, but united in the common enter¬ 
prise. 

The burden that is upon the heart of every conscientious public man 
is the burden of the thought that perhaps he does not sufficiently 
comprehend the national life. For, as a matter of fact, no single man 
does comprehend it. The whole purpose of democracy is that we may 
hold counsel with one another, so as not to depend upon the under¬ 
standing of one man, but to depend upon the counsel of all. For only 
as men are brought into counsel, and state their own needs and inter¬ 
ests, can the general interests of a great people be compounded into 
a policy that will be suitable to all. 

I have realized all my life, as a man connected with the tasks of 
education, that the chief use of education is to open the understanding 
to comprehend as many things as possible. That it is not what a man 
knows,—for no man knows a great deal,—but what a man has upon 
his mind to find out; it is his ability to understand things, it is his 
connection with the great masses of men that makes him fit to speak 
for others,—and only that. I have associated with some of the gentle¬ 
men who are connected with the special interests of this country (and 
many of them are pretty fine men, I can tell you), but, fortunately for 
me, I have associated with a good many other persons besides; I have 
not confined my acquaintance to these interesting groups, and I can 

72 


THE PARLIAMENT OF THE PEOPLE 

actually tell those gentlemen some things that they have not had time 
to find out. It has been my great good fortune not to have had my 
head buried in special undertakings, and, therefore, I have had 
occasional look at the horizon. Moreover, I found out, a long time ago, 
fortunately for me, when I was a boy, that the United States did not 
consist of that part of it in which I lived. There was a time when I was 
a very narrow provincial, but happily the circumstances of my life 
made it necessary that I should go to a very distant part of the country, 
and I early found out what a very limited acquaintance I had with the 
United States, found out that the only thing that would give me any 
sense at all in discussing the affairs of the United States was to know 
as many parts of the United States as possible. 

The men who have been ruling America must consent to let the 
majority into the game. We will no longer permit any system to go 
uncorrected which is based upon private understandings and expert 
testimony; we will not allow the few to continue to determine what 
the policy of the country is to be. It is a question of access to our own 
government. There are very few of us who have had any real access 
to the government. It ought to be a matter of common counsel; a 
matter of united counsel; a matter of mutual comprehension. 

So, keep the air dear with constant discussion. Make every public 
servant feel that he is acting in the open and under scrutiny; and, 
above all things else, take these great fundamental questions of your 
lives with which political platforms concern themselves and search 
them through and through by every process of debate. Then we shall 
have a dear air in which we shall see our way to each kind of social 
betterment. When we have freed our government, when we have re¬ 
stored freedom of enterprise, when we have broken up the partner¬ 
ships between money and power which now block us at every turn, 
then we shall see our way to accomplish all the handsome things which 
platforms promise in vain if they do not start at the point where stand 
the gates of liberty. 

I am not afraid of the American people getting up and doing some- 

73 



THE PARLIAMENT OF THE PEOPLE 

thing. I am only afraid they will not; and when I hear a popular vote 
spoken of as mob government, I feel like telling the man who dares so 
to speak that he has no right to call himself an American* You cannot 
make a reckless, passionate force out of a body of sober people earning 
their living in a free country. Just picture to yourselves the voting 
population of this great land, from the sea to the far borders in the 
mountains, going calmly, man by man, to the polls, expressing its 
judgment about public affairs: is that your image of <€ a mob?” 

What is a mob? A mob is a body of men in hot contact with one 
another, moved by ungovernable passion to do a hasty thing that they 
will regret the next day. Do you see anything resembling a mob in that 
voting population of the countryside, men tramping over the moun¬ 
tains, men going to the general store up in the village, men moving in 
little talking groups to the corner grocery to cast their ballots,—-is that 
your notion of a mob? Or is that your picture of a free, self-governing 
people? I am not afraid of the judgments so expressed, if you give men 
time to think, if you give them a clear conception of the things they 
are to vote for; because the deepest conviction and passion of my heart 
is that the common people, by which I mean all of us, are to be abso¬ 
lutely trusted. 

So, at this opening of a new age, in this its day of unrest and dis¬ 
content, it is our part to clear the air, to bring about common counsel; 
to set up the parliament of the people; to demonstrate that we are 
fighting no man, that we are trying to bring all men to understand 
one another; that we are not the friends of any class against any other 
class, but that our duty is to make classes understand one another* 
Our part is to lift so high the incomparable standards of the common 
interest and the common justice that all men with vision, all men with 
hope, all men with the convictions of America in their hearts, will 
crowd to that standard and a new day of achievement may come for 
the liberty which we love. 


74 



6 


Let There Be Light 


The concern of patriotic men is to put our government again 
on its right basis, by substituting the popular will for the rule of guard¬ 
ians, the processes of common counsel for those of private arrangement. 
In order to do this, a first necessity is to open the doors and let in the 
light on all affairs which the people have a right to know about. 

In the first place, it is necessary to open up all the processes 
of our politics. They have been too secret, too complicated, too round¬ 
about ; they have consisted too much of private conferences and secret 
understandings, of the control of legislation by men who were not 
legislators, but who stood outside and dictated, controlling oftentimes 
by very questionable means, which they would not have dreamed of 
allowing to become public. The whole process must be altered. We 
must take the selection of candidates for office, for example, out of the 
hands of small groups of men, of little coteries, out of the hands of 
machines working behind closed doors, and put it into the ha nds of 
the people themselves again by means of direct primaries and elections 
to which candidates of every sort and degree may have free access. 
We must substitute public for private machinery. 

It is necessary, in the second place, to give society command 
of its own economic life again by denying to those who conduct the 
great modern operations of business the privacy that used to belong 
properly enough to men who used only their own capital and their 
individual energy in business. The processes of capital must be as open 

75 




LET THERE BE LIGHT 


as the processes of politics. Those who make use of the great modern 
accumulations of wealth, gathered together by the dragnet process of 
the sale of stocks and bonds, and piling up of reserves, must be treated 
as under a public obligation; they must be made responsible for their 
business methods to the great communities which are in fact their work¬ 
ing partners, so that the hand which makes correction shall easily 
reach them and a new principle of responsibility be felt throughout 
their structure and operation. 

What are the right methods of politics? Why, the right methods are 
those of public discussion: the methods of leadership open and above 
board, not closeted with boards of guardians 95 or anybody else, but 
brought out under the sky, where honest eyes can look upon them and 

honest eyes can judge erf them. 

If there is nothing to conceal, then why conceal it? If it is a public 
game, why play it in private? If it is a public game, then why not come 
out into the open and play it in public? You have got to cure diseased 
politics as we nowadays cure tuberculosis, by making all the people 
who suffer from It live out of doors; not only spend their days out of 
doors and walk around, but sleep out of doors; always remain in the 
open, where they will be accessible to fresh, nourishing, and revivifying 
iniuences. 

I, fee one, have the conviction that government ought to be all 
outside and no inside. I, for my part, believe there ought to be no place 
where anything can be done that everybody does not know about. It 
would be very inconvenient for some gentlemen, probably, if govern¬ 
ment were all outside, but we have consulted their susceptibilities too 
long already. It is barely possible that some of these gentlemen are 
unjustly suspected; in that case they owe it to themselves to come out 
and operate in the light. The very fact that so much in politics is done 
in the dark, behind dosed doors, promotes suspicion. Everybody knows 
that corruption thrives in secret places, and avoids public places, and 
we believe it a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety. So, 
our honest politicians and our honorable corporation heads owe it to 
their reputations to-bring their activities out into the open. 

76 


LET THERE BE LIGHT 


At any rate, whether they like it or not, these affairs are going to be 
dragged into the open. We are more anxious about their reputations 
than they are themselves. We are too solicitous for their morals,—if 
they are not,—to permit them longer to continue subject to the temp¬ 
tations of secrecy. You know there is temptation in loneliness and 
secrecy. Haven’t you experienced it? I have. We are never so proper 
in our conduct as when everybody can look and see exactly what we 
are doing. If you are off in some distant part of the world and suppose 
that nobody who lives within a mile of your home is anywhere around, 
there are times when you adjourn your ordinary standards. You say 
to yourself: “Well, I’ll have a fling this time; nobody will know any-' 
thing about it.” If you were on the desert of Sahara, you would feel 
that you might permit yourself,—well, say, some slight latitude in con¬ 
duct ; but if you saw one of your immediate neighbors coming the other 
way on a camel,—you would behave yourself until he got out of sight. 
The most dangerous thing in the world is to get off where nobody knows 
you. I advise you to stay around among the neighbors, and then you may 
keep out of jail. That is the only way some of us can keep out of jail. 

Publicity is one of the purifying elements of politics. The best thing 
that you can do with anything that is crooked is to lift it up where 
people can see that it is crooked, and then it will either straighten 
itself out or disappear. Nothing checks all the bad practices of politics 
like public exposure. You can’t be crooked in the light. I don’t know 
whether it has ever been tried or not; but I venture to say, purely from 
observation, that it can’t be done. 

And so the people of the United States have made up their minds to 
do a healthy thing for both politics and big business. Permit me to 
mix a few metaphors: They are going to open doors; they are going 
to let up blinds; they are going to drag sick things into the open air 
and into the light of the sun. They are going to organize a great hunt, 
and smoke certain animals out of their burrows. They are going to 
unearth the beast in the jungle in which when they hunted they were 
caught by the beast instead of catching him. They have determined, 
therefore, to take an axe and raze the jungle, and then see where the 

77 


LET THERE BE LIGHT 

beast will find cover. And I, for my part, bid them God-speed. The 
jungle breeds nothing but infection and shelters nothing but the 
enemies of mankind. 

And nobody is going to get caught in our hunt except the beasts that 
prey. Nothing is going to be cut down or injured that anybody ought 
to wish preserved. 

You know the story of the Irishman who, while digging a hole, was 
asked, “Pat, what are you doing,—digging a hole?” And he replied, 
“No, sir; I am digging the dirt, and laving the hole.” It was probably 
the same Irishman who, seen digging around the wall of a house, 
was asked, “Pat, what are you doing?” And he answered, “Faith, I 
am letting the dark out of the cellar.” Now, that’s exactly what we 
want to do,—let the dark out of the cellar. 

Take, first, the relations existing between politics and business. 

It is perfectly legitimate, of course, that the business interests of the 
country should not only enjoy the protection of the law, but that they 
should be in every way furthered and strengthened and facilitated by 
legislation. The country has no jealousy of any connection between 
business and politics which is a legitimate connection. It is not in the 
least averse from open efforts to accommodate law to the material de¬ 
velopment which has so strengthened the country in all that it has 
undertaken by supplying its extraordinary life with its necessary physi¬ 
cal foundations. 

But the illegitimate connections between business and legislation are 
another matter. I would wish to speak on this subject with soberness 
and drcumspection. I have no desire to excite anger against anybody. 
That would be easy, but it would do no particular good. I wish, rather, 
to consider an unhappy situation in a spirit that may enable us to 
account for it, to some extent, and so perhaps get at the causes and 
the remedy. Mere denunciation doesn’t help much to clear up a matter 
so involved as is the complicity of business with evil politics in America. 

Every community is vaguely aware that the political machine upon 
which it looks a skanc e has certain very definite connections with men 

7 8 


LET THERE BE LIGHT 

who are engaged in business on a large scale, and the suspicion which 
attaches to the machine itself has begun to attach also to business 
enterprises, just because these connections are known to exist. If these 
connections were open and avowed, if everybody knew just what they 
involved and just what use was being made of them, there would be 
no difficulty in keeping an eye upon affairs and in controlling them 
by public opinion. But, unfortunately, the whole process of law-making 
in America is a very obscure one. There is no highway of legislation, 
but there are many by-ways. Parties are not organized in such a way 
in our legislatures as to make any one group of men avowedly respon¬ 
sible for the course of legislation. The whole process of discussion, if 
any discussion at all takes place, is private and shut away from public 
scrutiny and knowledge. There are so many circles within circles, 
there are so many indirect and private ways of getting at legislative 
action, that our communities are constantly uneasy during legisla¬ 
tive sessions. It is this confusion and obscurity and privacy of our legis¬ 
lative method that gives the political machine its opportunity. There is 
no publicly responsible man or group of men who areknowntoformulafe 
legislation and to take charge of it from the time of its introduction 
until the time of its enactment. It has, therefore, been possible for an 
outside force,—the political machine, the body of men who nominated 
the legislators and who conducted the contest for their election,—to 
assume the r61e of control. Business men who desired something done 
in the way of changing the law under which they were acting, or who 
wished to prevent legislation which seemed to them to threaten their 
own interests, have known that there was this definite body of persons 
to resort to, and they have made terms with them. They have agreed 
to supply them with money for campaign expenses and to stand by 
them in all other cases where money was necessary if in return they 
might resort to them for protection or for assistance in matters of 
legislation. Legislators looked to a certain man who was not even a 
member of their body for instructions as to what they were to do with 
particular bills. The machine, which was the centre of party organiza¬ 
tion, was the natural instrument of control, and men who had business 

79 





LET THERE BE LIGHT 

interests to promote naturally resorted to the body which exercised 
the control. 

There need have been nothing sinister about this. If the whole matter 
had been open and candid and honest, public criticism would not have 
centred upon it. But the use of money always results in demoralization, 
and goes beyond demoralization to actual corruption. There are two 
kinds of corruption, —the crude and obvious sort, which consists in 
direct bribery, and the much subtler, more dangerous, sort, which 
consists in a corruption of the will. Business men who have tried to 
set up a control in politics through the machine have more and more 
deceived themselves, have allowed themselves to think that the whole 
matter was a necessary means of self-defence, have said that it was a 
necessary outcome of our political system. Having reassured them¬ 
selves in this way, they have drifted from one thing to another until 
the questions of morals involved have become hopelessly obscured and 
submerged. How far away from the ideals of their youth have many 
of our men of business drifted, enmeshed in the vicious system,—how 
far away from the days when their fine young manhood was wrapped 
in ^that chastity of honor which felt a stain like a wound P 

It is one of the happy circu m stances of our time that the most intelli¬ 
gent of our business men have seen the mistake as well as the immo¬ 
rality of the whole bad business. The alliance between business and 
Politics has been a burden to them,—an advantage, no doubt, upon 
occasion, but a very questionable and burdensome advantage. It has 
given them great power, but it has also subjected them to a sort of 
slavery and a bitter sort of subserviency to politicians. They are as 
anxious to be freed from bondage as the country is to be rid of the 
influences and methods which it represents. Leading business men are 
n&w becoming great factors in the emancipation of the country from 
a system which was leading from bad to worse. There are those, of 
course, who are wedded to the old ways and who will stand out for 
them to the last, but they will sink into a minority and be overcome. 
The rest have found that their old excuse (namely, that it was necessary 
to defend themselves against unfair legislation) is no longer a good 

80 





LET THERE BE LIGHT 


excuse; that there is a better way of defending themselves than through 
the private use of money. That better way is to take the public into 
their confidence, to make absolutely open aH their dealings with legis¬ 
lative bodies and legislative officers, and let the public judge as be¬ 
tween them and those with whom they are dealing. 

This discovery on their part of what ought to have been obvious aH 
along points out the way of reform; for undoubtedly publicity comes 
very near being the cure-all for political and economic maladies of this 
sort. But publicity will continue to be very difficult so long as our 
methods of legislation are so obscure and devious and private. I think 
it will become more and more obvious that the way to purify our 
politics is to simplify them, and that the way to simplify them is to 
establish responsible leadership. We now have no leadership at aH 
inside our legislative bodies,—at any rate, no leadership which is defi¬ 
nite enough to attract the attention and watchfulness of the country. 
Our only leadership being that of irresponsible persons outside the 
legislatures who constitute the political machines, it is extremely diffi¬ 
cult for even the most watchful public opinion to keep track of the 
circuitous methods pursued. This undoubtedly lies at the root of the 
growing demand on the part of American communities everywhere for 
responsible leadership, for putting in authority and keeping in autho- 
ity those whom they know and whom they can watch and whom they 
can constantly hold to account. The business of the country ought to be 
served by thoughtful and progressive legislation, but it ought to be 
served openly, candidly, advantageously, with a careful regard to 
letting everybody be heard and every interest be considered, the interest 
which is not backed by money as well as the interest which is; and this 
can be accomplished only by some simplification of our methods which 
will centre the public trust in small groups of men who will lead, not 
by reason of legal authority, but by reason of their contact with and 
amenability to public opinion. 

I am striving to indicate my belief that our legislative methods may 
well be reformed in the direction of giving more open publicity to 
every act, in the direction of setting up some form of responsible leader- 

81 


LET THERE BE LIGHT 


ship on the floor of our legislative halls so that the people may know 
who is back of every bill and back of the opposition to it, and so that 
it may be dealt with in the open chamber rather than in the committee 
room. The light must be let in on all processes of law-making. 

Legislation, as we nowadays conduct it, is not conducted in the open. 
It is not threshed out in open debate upon the floors of our assemblies. 
It is, on the contrary, framed, digested, and concluded in committee 
rooms. It is in committee rooms that legislation not desired by the 
interests dies. It is In committee rooms that legislation desired by the 
interests is framed ami brought forth. There is not enough debate of it 
in open house, in most cases, to disclose the real meaning of the pro¬ 
posals made. Clauses lie quietly unexplained and unchallenged in our 
statutes which contain the whole gist and purpose of the act; qualifying 
phrases which escape the public attention, casual definitions which do 
not attract attention, classifications so technical as not to be generally 
understood, and which every one most intimately concerned is careful 
not to explain or expound, contain the whole purpose of the law. Only 
after it has been enacted and has come to adjudication in the courts is 
its scheme as a whole divulged. The beneficiaries are then safe behind 
their bulwarks. 

Of course, the chief triumphs of committee work, of covert phrase 
and unexplained classification, are accomplished in the framing of 
tarife. Ever since the passage of the outrageous Payne-Aldrich Tariff 
Act 1 our people have been discovering the concealed meanings and 
purposes which lay hidden in it. They are discovering item by item 
how deeply and deliberately they were deceived and cheated. This did 
not happen by accident; it came about by design, by elaborated, secret 
design. Questions put upon the floor in the House and Senate were not 
frankly or truly answered, and an elaborate piece of legislation was 


p3 TV he Mgh P ^-.41drich Tariff Act over the opposi- 
W °!5 ffP ^publican insurgents from the Midwest. 

5.0S campaign Taft had promised revision of the tariff downward, 
idt ^5^ Event’s capitulation to conservative G.O.P. leaders 
interests;* 1 rCprCSmted a betrayal of ^ Progressives and a surrender to “the 


82 


LET THERE BE LIGHT 


foisted on the country which could not possibly have passed if it had 
been generally comprehended. 

And we know, those of us who handle the machinery of politics, that 
the great difficulty in breaking up the control of the political boss is 
that he is backed by the money and the influence of these very people 
who are intrenched in these very schedules. The tariff could never have 
been built up item by item by public discussion, and it never could have 
passed, if item by item it had been explained to the people of this 
country. It was built up by arrangement and by the subtle management 
of a political organization represented in the Senate of the United 
States by the senior Senator from Rhode Island, and in the House of 
Representatives by one of the Representatives from Illinois . 2 These 
gentlemen did not build that tariff upon the evidence that was given 
before the Committee on Ways and Means as to what the manufacturer 
and the workingmen, the consumers and the producers, of this country 
want. It was not built upon what the interests of the country called for. 
It was built upon understandings arrived at outside of the rooms where 
testimony was given and debate was held. 

I am not even now suggesting corrupt influence. That is not my 
point. Corruption is a very difficult thing to manage in its literal sense. 
The payment of money is very easily detected, and men of this kind 
who control these interests by secret arrangement would not consent 
to receive a dollar in money. They are following their own principles,— 
that is to say, the principles which they think and act upon,—and they 
think they are perfectly honorable and incorruptible men; but they 
believe one thing that I do not believe and that it is evident the people 
of the country do not believe; they believe that the prosperity of the 
country depends upon the arrangements which certain party leaders 
make with certain business leaders. They believe that, but the propo¬ 
sition has merely to be stated to the jury to be rejected. The prosperity 
of this country depends upon the interests of all of us and cannot be 

8 Congress in 1909 was controlled by a conservative Republican coalition headed 
by Senator Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island and Speaker “Uncle Joe” Cannon of 
Illinois. 


83 


LET THERE BE LIGHT 

brought about by arrangement between any groups of persons. Take 
any question you like out to the country,—let it be threshed out in 
public debate,—and you will have made these methods impossible. 

This is what sometimes happens: They promise you a particular 
piece of legislation. As soon as the legislature meets, a bill embodying 
that legislation is introduced. It is referred to a committee- You never 
hear of it again. What happened? Nobody knows what happened. 

I am not intimating that corruption creeps in; I do not know what 
creeps in. The point is that we not only do not know, but it is intimated, 
if we get inquisitive, that it Is none of our business. My reply is that it 
is our busine ss, and it is the business of every man in the state; we have 
a right to know all the particulars of that bill’s history. There is not any 
legitimate privacy about matters of government. Government must, if 
it Is to be pure and correct in Its processes, be absolutely public in 
everything that affects It. I cannot imagine a public man with a 
conscience having a secret that he would keep from the people about 
their own affairs. 

I know how some of these gentlemen reason. They say that the 
influences to which they are yielding are perfectly legitimate influences, 
but that If they were disclosed they would not be understood. Well, I 
am very sorry, but nothing is legitimate that cannot be understood. If 
you cannot explain it properly, then there Is something about it that 
ca nno t be explained at all. I know from the circumstances of the case, 
not what is happening, but that something private is happening', and 
that every time one of these bills gels into committee, something' private 
^ops it, and it never comes out again unless forced out by the agitation 
of the press or the courage and revolt of brave men In the legislature. 

I have known brave men of that sort. I could name some splendid 
examples of men who, as representatives of the people, demanded to be 
told by the chairman of the committee why the bill was not reported, 
and who, when they could not find out from him, investigated and 
found out for themselves and brought the bill out by threatening to tell 
the reason on the floor of the House. 

Those are private processes. Those are processes which stand foe- 

84 



LET THERE BE LIGHT 


tween, the people and the things that are promised them, and I say that 
Until you drive all of those things into the open, you are not connected 
your government; you are not represented; you are not partici¬ 
pants in your government. Such a scheme of government by private 
Understanding deprives you of representation, deprives the people of 
representative institutions. It has got to be put into the heads of legis¬ 
lators that public business is public business. I hold the opinion that 
there can be no confidences as against the people with respect to their 
government, and that it is the duty of every public officer to explain 
to his fellow-citizens whenever he gets a chance,—explain exactly what 
ls going on inside of his own office. 

There is no air so wholesome as the air of utter publicity. 

There are other tracts of modern life where jungles have grown up 
that must be cut down. Take, for example, the entirely illegitimate 
extensions made of the idea of private property for the benefit of 
modern corporations and trusts. A modern joint stock corporation 
cannot in any proper sense be said to base its rights and powers upon 
the principles of private property. Its powers are wholly derived from 
legislation. It possesses them for the convenience of business at the 
sufferance of the public. Its stock is widely owned, passes from hand to 
hand, brings multitudes of men into its shifting partnerships and con¬ 
nects it with the interests and the investments of whole communities. 
It is a segment of the public; bears no analogy to a partnership or to 
the processes by which private property is safeguarded and managed, 
and should not be suffered to afford any covert whatever to these who 
are managing it. Its management Is of public and general concern, is 
in a very proper sense everybody’s business. The business of many of 
those corporations which we call public-service corporations, and 
which are indispensable to our daily lives and serve us with transpor¬ 
tation and light and water and power,—their business, for instance, is 
clearly public business; and, therefore, we can and must penetrate 
their affairs by the light of examination and discussion. 

In JNTew Jersey the people have realized this for a long time, and a 

85 




LET THERE BE LIGHT 


year or two ago we got our ideas on the subject enacted into legislation. 
The corporations involved opposed the legislation with all their might. 
They talked about rain,—and I really believe they did think they 
would be somewhat injured. But they have not been. And I hear I 
cannot tel you how many men in New Jersey say: “Governor, we 
were opposed to you; we did not believe in the things you wanted to 
do, but now that you have done them, we take off our hats. That was 
the thing to do, it did not hurt us a bit; it just put us on a normal 
footing; it took away suspicion from our business.” New Jersey, having 
taken the cold plunge, cries out to the rest of the states, “Come on in! 
The waters fine!” I wonder whether these men who are controlling 
the government of the United States realize how they are creating 
every year a thickening atmosphere of suspicion, in which presently 
they will find that business cannot breathe? 

So I take it to be a necessity of the hour to open up all the processes 
of politics and of public business,—open them wide to public view; to 
make ^ them accessible to every force that moves, every opinion that 
prevails in the thought of the people; to give society command of its 
own economic life again, not by revolutionary measures, but by a 
steady application of the principle that the people have a right to look 
mto such matters and to control them; to cut all privileges and patron¬ 
age and private advantage and secret enjoyment out of legislation. 

Wherever any public business is transacted, wherever plans affecting 
the public are laid, or enterprises touching the public welfare, comfort, 
or convenience go forward, wherever political programs are formu¬ 
lated, or candidates agreed on,—over that place a voice must speak, 

with the drnne prerogative of a people’s will, the words: “Let there 
Delight!” 


86 




7 


The Tariff 

“Protection,” or Special Privilege? 

Every business question, in this country, comes back, sooner 
or later, to the question of the tariff. You cannot escape from it, no 
matter in which direction you go. T. he tariff is situated in relation to 
other questions like Boston Common in the old arrangement of that 
interesting city. I remember seeing once, in Life, a picture of a man 
standing at the door of one of the railway stations in Boston and in¬ 
quiring of a Bostonian the way to the Common. “Take any of these 
streets,” was the reply, “in either direction.” Now, as the Common was 
related to the winding streets of Boston, so the tariff question is related 
to the economic questions of our day. Take any direction and you will 
sooner or later get to the Common. And, in discussing the tariff you 
may start at the centre and go in any direction you please. 

Let us illustrate by standing at the centre, the Common itself. 
As far back as 1828, when they knew nothing about “practical politics” 
as compared with what we know now, a tariff bill was passed which 
was called the “Tariff of Abominations,” because it had no beginning 
nor end nor plan. It had no traceable pattern in it. It was as if the 
demands of everybody in the United States had all been thrown in¬ 
discriminately into one basket and that basket presented as a piece of 
legislation. It had been a general scramble and everybody who 
scrambled hard enough had been taken care of in the schedules result- 

87 



THE TARIFF 


mg. It was an abominable thing to the thoughtful men of that day, 
because no man guided it, shaped it, or tried to make an equitable 
system out of it. That was bad enough, but at least everybody had an 
open door through which to scramble for his advantage. It was a go-as- 
you-please, free-for-all struggle, and anybody who could get to Wash¬ 
ington and say he represented an important business interest could be 
heard by the Committee on Ways and Means. 

We have a very different state of affairs now. The Committee 
on Ways and Means and the Finance Committee of the Senate in 
these sophisticated days have come to discriminate by long experience 
among the persons whose counsel they are to take in respect of tariff 
legislation. There has been substituted for the unschooled body of 
citizens that used to clamor at the doors of the Finance Committee and 
the Committee on Ways and Means, one of the most interesting and 
able bodies of expert lobbyists that has ever been developed in the 
experience of any country,—men who know so much about the matters 
they are talking of that you cannot put your knowledge into competi¬ 
tion with theirs. They so overwhelm you with their familiarity with 
detail that you cannot discover wherein their scheme lies. They suggest 
the change of an innocent fraction in a particular schedule and explain 
it to you so plausibly that you cannot see that it means millions of 
dollars additional from the consumers of this country. They propose, 
for example, to put the carbon for electric lights in two-foot pieces in¬ 
stead of one-foot pieces, and you do not see where you are getting 
sold, because you are not an expert. If you will get some expert to go 
through the schedules of the present Payne-Aldrich tariff, you will find 
a nigger concealed in almost every woodpile,—some little word, 
some little clause, some unsuspected item, that draws thousands of 
dollars out of the pockets of the consumer and yet does not seem to 
mean anything in particular. They have calculated the whole thing 
beforehand; they have analyzed the whole detail and consequence, 
each one in his specialty. With the tariff specialist the average business 
man has no possibility of competition. Instead of the old scramble, 
which was bad enough, we get the present expert control of the tariff 

88 



THE TARIFF 

schedules. Thus the relation between business and government be- 
comes, not a matter of the exposure of all the sensitive parts of the 
government to all the active parts of the people, but the special im¬ 
pression upon them of a particular organized force in the business 

world. 

Furthermore, every expedient and device of secrecy is brought into 
use to keep the public unaware of the arguments of the high protection¬ 
ists, and ignorant of the facts which refute them; and uninformed of 
the intentions of the framers of the proposed legislation. It is notorious, 
even, that many members of the Finance Committee of the Senate did 
not know the significance of the tariff schedules which were reported in 
the present tariff bill to the Senate, and that members of the Senate 
who asked Mr. Aldrich direct questions were refused the information 
they sought; sometimes, I dare say, because he could not give it and 
sometimes, I venture to say, because disclosure of the information 
would have embarrassed the passage of the measure. There were essen¬ 
tial papers, moreover, which could not be got at. 

Take that very interesting matter, that will-o’-the-wisp, known as 
‘ the cost of production.” It is hard for any man who has ever studied 
economics at all to restrain a cynical smile when he is told that an 
intelligent group of his fellow-citizens are looking for “the cost of pro¬ 
duction” as a basis for tariff legislation. It is not the same in any one 
factory for two years together. It is not the same in one industry from 
one season to another. It is not the same in one country at two different 
epochs. It is constantly eluding your grasp. It nowhere exists, as a 
scientific, demonstrable fact. But, in order to carry out the pretences 
of the “protective” program, it was necessary to go through the mo¬ 
tions of finding out what it was. I am credibly informed that the 
government of the United States requested several foreign govern¬ 
ments, among others the government of Germany, to supply it with 
as reliable figures as possible concerning the cost of producing certain 
articles corresponding with those produced in the United States. The 
German government put the matter into the hands of certain of her 

89 


THE TARIFF 


manufacturers, who sent in just as complete answers as they could 
procure from their books. The information reached our government 
during the course of the debate on the Payne-Aldrich Bill and was 
transmitted,—for the bill by that time had reached the Senate,—to the 
Finance Committee of the Senate. But I am told,—and I have no 
reason to doubt it,—that it never came out of the pigeonholes of the 
committee. I don’t know, and that committee doesn’t know, what the 
information it contained was. When Mr. Aldrich was asked about it, 
he first said it was not an official report from the German government. 
Afterward he intimated that it was an impudent attempt on the part of 
the German government to interfere with tariff legislation in the 
United States. But he never said what the cost of production disclosed 
by it was. If he had, it is more than likely that some of the schedules 
would have been shown to be entirely unjustifiable. 

Such instances show you just where the centre of gravity is,—and it 
is a matter of gravity indeed, for it is a very grave matter! It lay during 
the last Congress m the one person who was the accomplished inter¬ 
mediary between the expert lobbyists and the legislation of Congress. 
I am not saying this in derogation of the character of Mr. Aldrich. It 
is no concern of mine what kind of man Mr. Aldrich is; now, particu¬ 
larly, when he has retired from pubic life, is it a matter of indifference. 
The point is that he, because of Ms long experience, Ms long handling 
of these delicate and private matters, was the usual and natural instru¬ 
ment by wMch the Congress, of the United States informed itself, not as 
to the wishes of the people of the United States or of the rank and file 
of business men of the country, but as to the needs and arguments of the 
experts who came to arrange matters with the co mmi ttees. 

The moral of the whole matter is this: The business of the United 
States is not as a whole .in contact with the government of the United 
States. So soon as it is, the matters which, now give you, and justly give 
you, cause for uneasiness will disappear. Just so soon as the business 
of this country has general, free, welcome access to the councils of 
Congress, all the friction between business and polities will disappear. 

9 ° 


THE TARIFF 


The tariff question is not the question that it was fifteen or twenty 
or thirty years ago. It used to be said by the advocates of the tariff 
that it made no difference even if there were a great wall separating 

us from the commerce of the world, because inside the United States 
there was so enormous an area of absolute free trade that competition 
within the country kept prices down to a normal level; that so long as 
one state could compete with all the others in the United States, and 
all the others compete with it, there would be only that kind of advan¬ 
tage gained which is gained by superior brain, superior economy, the 
better plant, the better administration; all of the things that have made 
America supreme, and kept prices in America down, because American 
genius was competing with American genius. I must add that so long 
as that was true, there was much to be said in defence of the protective 
tariff. 

But the point now is that the protective tariff has been taken advan¬ 
tage of by some men to destroy domestic competition, to combine all 
existing rivals within our free-trade area, and to make it impossible for 
new men to come into the field. Under the high tariff there has been 
formed a network of factories which in their connection dominate the 
market of the United States and establish their own prices. Whereas, 
therefore, it was once arguable that the high tariff did not create the 
high cost of living, it is now no longer arguable that these combinations 
do not,—not by reason of the tariff, but by reason of their combination 
under the tariff,—settle what prices shall be paid; settle how much the 
product shall be; and settle, moreover, what shall be the market for 
labor. 

The “protective” policy, as we hear it proclaimed to-day, bears no 
relation to the original doctrine enunciated by Webster and Clay. The 
“infant industries,” which those statesmen desired to encourage, have 
grown up and grown gray, but they have always had new arguments 
for special favors. Their demands have gone far beyond what they 
dared ask for in the days of Mr. Blaine and Mr. McKinley, though 
both those apostles of “protection” were, before they died, ready to con- 

91 





THE TARIFF 


fess that the time had even then come to call a halt on the claims of 
the subsidized industries. William McKinley, before he died, showed 
symptoms of adjustment to the new age such as his successors have not 
exhibited. You remember what the utterances of Mr. McKinley’s last 
month were with regard to the policy with which his name is particu¬ 
larly identified; I mean the policy of “protection.” You remember how 
he joined in opinion with what Mr. Blaine before him had said— 
namely, that we had devoted the country to a policy which, too 
rigidly persisted in, was proving a policy of restriction; and that we 
must look forward to a time that ought to come very soon when we 
should enter into reciprocal relations of trade with all the countries of 
the world. This was another way of saying that we must substitute 
elasticity for rigidity; that we must substitute trade for closed ports. 
McKinley saw what his successors did not see. He saw that we had 
made for ourselves a strait-jacket. 

When I reflect upon the “protective” policy of this country, and 
observe that it is the later aspects and the later uses of that policy 
which have built up trusts and monopoly in the United States, I make 
this contrast in my thought: Mr. McKinley had already uttered his 
protest against what he foresaw; his successor saw what McKinley had 
only foreseen, but he took no action. His successor saw those very 
special privileges, which Mr. McKinley himself began to suspect, used 
by the men who had obtained them to build up a monopoly for them¬ 
selves, making freedom of enterprise in thi s country more and more 
dif fic ult. I am one erf those who have the utmost confidence that Mr. 
McKinley would not have sanctioned the later developments of the 
policy with which Ms name stands identified. 

What is the present tariff policy of the protectionists? It is not the 
ancient protective policy to wMch I would give all due credit, but an 
entirely new doctrine. I ask anybody who is interested in the history 
of high “protective” tariffs to compare the latest platforms of the two 
“protective” tariff parties with the old doctrine. Men have been struck, 
students erf this matter, by an entirely new departure. The new doctrine 
erf the protectionist is that the tariff should represent the difference be- 

92 


THE TARIFF 


tween the cost of production in America and the cost of production in 
other countries, plus a reasonable profit to those who are engaged in 
industry. This is the new part of the protective doctrine: “plus a reason¬ 
able profit/’ It openly guarantees profit to the men who come and ask 
favors of Congress. The old idea of a protective tariff was designed to 
keep American industries alive and, therefore, keep American labor 
employed* But the favors of protection have become so permanent that 
this is what has happened: Men, seeing that they need not fear foreign 
competition, have drawn together in great combinations. These com¬ 
binations include factories (if it is a combination of factories) of all 
grades: old factories and new factories, factories with antiquated 
machinery and factories with brand-new machinery; factories that are 
economically and factories that are not economically administered; 
factories that have been long in the family, which have been allowed 
to run down, and factories with all the new modern inventions. As 
soon as the combination is effected the less efficient factories are gener¬ 
ally put out of operation. But the stock issued in payment for them has 
to pay dividends. And the United States government guarantees profit 
on investment in factories that have gone out of business. As soon as 
these combinations see prices falling they reduce the hours of labor, 
they reduce production, they reduce wages, they throw men out of 
employment,—in order to do what? In order to keep the prices up in 
spite of their lack of efficiency. 

There may have been a time when the tariff did not raise prices, but 
that time is past; the tariff is now taken advantage of by the great 
combinations in such a way as to give them control of prices. These 
things do not happen by chance. It does not happen by chance that 
prices are and have been rising faster here than in any other country. 
That river that divides us from Canada divides us from much cheaper 
living, notwithstanding that the Canadian Parliament levies duties on 
importations. 

But “Ah!” exclaim those who do not understand what is going on; 
“you will ruin the country with your free trade!” Who said free trade? 

93 


THE TARIFF 


Who proposed free trade? You can’t have free trade in the United 
States, because the government of the United States is of necessity, 
with our present division of the field of taxation between the federal 
and state governments, supported in large part by the duties collected 
at the ports. I should like to ask some gentlemen if very much is col¬ 
lected in the way of duties at the ports under the particular tariff 
schedules under which they operate. Some of the duties are practically 
prohibitive, and there is no tariff to be got from them. 

When you buy an imported article, you pay a part of the price to 
the Federal government in the form of customs duty. But, as a rule, 
what you buy is, not the imported article, but a domestic article, the 
price of which the manufacturer has been able to raise to a point equal 
to, or higher than, the price of the foreign article plus the duty. But who 
gets the tariff tax in this case? The government? Oh, no; not at aH. 
The manufacturer. The American manufacturer, who says that while 
he can’t sell goods as low as the foreign manufacturer, all good Ameri¬ 
cans ought to buy of him and pay him a tax on every article for the 
privilege. Perhaps we ought. The original idea was that, when he was 
just starling and needed support, we ought to buy of him, even if we 
had to pay a higher price, till he could get on his feet. Now it is said 
that we ought to buy of him and pay him a price 15 to 120 per cent, 
higher than we need pay the foreign manufacturer, even if he is a 
six-foot, bearded “infant,” because the cost of production is necessarily 
higher here than anywhere else. I don’t know why it should be. The 
American workingman used to be able to do so much more and better 
work than the foreigner that that more than compensated for big 
higher wages and made him a good bargain at any wage. 

Of course, if we are going to agree to give any fellow-citizen who 
takes a notion to go into some business or other for which the country 
is not especially adapted—if we are going to give him a bonus on 
every article he produces big enough to make up for the handicap he 
labors under because of some natural reason or other,—why, we may 
indeed gloriously diversify our industries, but we shall beggar ourselves. 

94 


THE TARIFF 


On this principle, we shall have in Connecticut, or Michigan, or some¬ 
where else, mi les of hothouses in which thousands of happy American 
workingmen, with full dinner-pails, will be raising bananas,—to be 
sold at a quarter apiece. Some foolish person, a benighted Democrat 
like as not, might timidly suggest that bananas were a greater public 
blessing when they came from Jamaica and were three for a nickel, 
but what patriotic citizen would listen for a moment to the criticisms 
of a person without any conception of the beauty and glory of the 
great American banana industry, without realization of the proud sig¬ 
nificance of the fact that Old Glory floats over the biggest banana 
hothouses in the world! 

But that is a matter on one side. What I am trying to point out to 
you now is that this “protective” tariff, so-called, has become a means 
of fostering the growth of particular groups of industry at the expense 
of the economic vitality of the rest of the country. What the people now 
propose is a very practical thing indeed: They propose to unearth these 
special privileges and to cut them out of the tariff. They propose not to 
leave a single concealed private advantage in the statutes concerning 
the duties that can possibly be eradicated without affecting the part 
of the business that is sound and legitimate and which we all wish to 
see promoted. 

Some men talk as if the tariff-reformers, as if the Democrats, weren’t 
part of the United States. I met a lady the other day, not an elderly 
lady, who said to me with pride: “Why, I have been a Democrat ever 
since they hunted them with dogs.” And you would really suppose, to 
hear some men talk, that Democrats were outlaws and did not share 
the life of the United States. Why, Democrats constitute nearly one 
half the voters of this country. They are engaged in all sorts of enter¬ 
prises, big and little. There isn’t a walk of life or a kind of occupation 
in which you won’t find them; and, as a Philadelphia paper very 
wittily said the other day, they can’t commit economic murder without 
committing economic suicide. Do you suppose, therefore, that half of 
the population of the United States is going about to destroy the very 

95 




THE TARIFF 


foundations of our economic life by simply running amuck amidst the 
schedules of the tariff? Some of the schedules are so tough that they 
wouldn’t be hurt, if it did. But that isn’t the program, and anybody 
who says that it is simply doesn’t understand the situation at all. All 
that the tariff-reformers claim is this: that the partnership ought to be 
bigger than it is. Just because there are so many of them, they know 
how many are outside. And let me tell you, just as many Republicans 
are outside. The only thing I have against my protectionist fellow- 
citizens is that they have allowed themselves to be imposed upon so 
many years. Think of saying that the “protective” tariff is for the 
benefit of the workingman, in the presence of all those facts that have 
just been disclosed in Lawrence, Mass., where the worst schedule of all 
—“Schedule K”—operates to keep men on wages on which they can¬ 
not live . 1 Why, the audacity, the impudence, of the claim is what strikes 
one; and in face of the fact that the workingmen of this country who 
are in unprotected industries are better paid than those who are in 
“protected” industries; at any rate, in the conspicuous industries! The 
Steel schedule, I dare say, is rather satisfactory to those who manufac¬ 
ture steel, but is it satisfactory to those who make the steel with their 
own tired hands? Don’t you know that there are mills in which men 
are made to work seven days in the week for twelve hours a day, and 
in the three hundred and sixty-five weary days of the year can’t make 
enough to pay their bills? And this in one of the giants among our 
industries, one of the undertakings which have thriven to gigantic size 
upon this very system. 

Ah, the whole mass of the fraud is falling away, and men are begin¬ 
ning to see disclosed little groups of persons maintaining a control over 
the dominant party and through the dominant party over the govern¬ 
ment, in their own interest, and not in the interest of the people of the 

United States! 

1 In 1912, workers in Lawrence went out on strike against the American Woolen 
Company and. other textile plants in protest against a reduction in wages. The 
strike focused national attention on working conditions in the mills. With the aid 
of IWW leaders, the workers ultimately scored a notable victory. “Schedule K” of 
the Tariff Act levied duties on wool and woolens. 

96 


THE TARIFF 


Let me repeat: There cannot be free trade in the United States so 
long as the established fiscal policy of the federal government is main¬ 
tained. The federal government has chosen throughout all the genera¬ 
tions that have preceded us to maintain itself chiefly on indirect instead 
of direct taxation. I dare say we shall never see a time when it can alter 
that policy in any substantial degree; and there is no Democrat of 
thoughtfulness that I have met who contemplates a program of free 
trade. 

But what we intend to do, what the House of Representatives has 
been attempting to do and will attempt to do again, and succeed in 
doing, is to weed this garden that we have been cultivating. Because, if 
we have been laying at the roots of our industrial enterprises this 
fertilization of protection, if we have been stimulating it by this policy, 
we have found that the stimulation was not equal in respect of all the 
growths in the garden, and that there are some growths, which every 
man can distinguish with the naked eye, which have so overtopped the 
rest, which have so thrown the rest into destroying shadow, that it is 
impossible for the industries of the United States as a whole to prosper 
under their blighting shade. In other words, we have found out that 
this that professes to be a process of protection has become a process of 
favoritism, and that the favorites of this policy have flourished at the 
expense of all the rest. And now we are going into this garden and weed 
it. We are going into this garden and give the little plants air and light 
in which to grow. We are going to puli up every root that has so 
spread itself as to draw the nutriment of the soil from the other roots. 
We are going in there to see to it that the fertilization of intelligence, 
of invention, of origination, is once more applied to a set of industries 
now threatening to be stagnant, because threatening to be too much 
concentrated. The policy of freeing the country from the restrictive 
tariff will so variegate and multiply the undertakings in the country 
that there will be a wider market and a greater competition for labor; 
it will let the sun shine through the clouds again as once it shone on 
the free, independent, impatronized intelligence and energy of a great 
people. 


97 



THE TARIFF 


One of the counts of the indictment against the so-called “protective” 
tariff is that it has robbed Americans of their independence, resource¬ 
fulness, and self-reliance. Our industry has grown invertebrate, cow¬ 
ardly, dependent on government aid. When I hear the argument of 
some of the biggest business men in this country, that if you took the 
“protection” of the tariff off they would be overcome by the competi¬ 
tion of the world, I ask where and when it happened that the boasted 
genius of America became afraid to go out into the open and compete 
with the world? Are we children, are we wards, are we still such puerile 
infants that we have to be fed out of a bottle? Isn’t it true that we know 
how to make steel in America better than anybody else in the world? 
Yet they say, “For Heaven’s sake don’t expose us to the chill of prices 
coming from any other quarter of the globe.” Mind you, we can com¬ 
pete with those prices. Steel is sold abroad, steel made in America is 
sold abroad in many of its forms, much cheaper than it is sold in 
America. It is so hard for people to get that into their heads! 

We set up a kindergarten in New York. We called it the Chamber 
of Horrors. We exhibited there a great many things manufactured in 
the United States, with the prices at which they were sold in the 
United States, and the prices at which they were sold outside of the 
United States, marked on them. If you tell a woman that she can buy 
a sewing machine for eighteen dollars in Mexico that she has to pay 
thirty dollars for in the United States, she will not heed it or she will 
forget it unless you take her and show her the machine with the price 
marked on it. My very distinguished friend, Senator Gore, of Okla¬ 
homa, made this interesting proposal: that we should pass a law that 
every piece of goods sold in the United States should have on it a label 
bearing the price at which it sells under the tariff and the price at 
which it would sell if there were no tariff, and then the Senator suggests 
that we have a very easy solution for the tariff question. He does not 
want to oblige that great body of our fellow-citizens who have a con¬ 
scientious belief in “protection” to turn away from it. He proposes that 
everybody who believes in the “protective” tariff should pay it and the 

98 


THE TARIFF 


rest of us should not; if they want to subscribe, it is open to them to 
subscribe. 

As for the rest of us, the time is coming when we shall not have to 
subscribe. The people of this land have made up their minds to cut all 
privilege and patronage out of our fiscal legislation, particularly out of 
that part of it which affects the tariff. We have come to recognize in 
the tariff as it is now constructed, not a system of protection, but a 
system of favoritism, of privilege, too often granted secretly and by 
subterfuge, instead of openly and frankly and legitimately, and we have 
determined to put an end to the whole bad business, not by hasty and 
drastic changes, but by the adoption of an entirely new principle,—by 
the reformation of the whole purpose of legislation of that kind. We 
mean that our tariff legislation henceforth shall have as its object, not 
private profit, but the general public development and benefit. We 
shall make our fiscal laws, not like those who dole out favors, but like 
those who serve a nation. We are going to begin with those particular 
items where we find special privilege intrenched. We know what those 
items are; these gentlemen have been kind enough to point them out 
themselves. What we are interested in first of all with regard to the 
tariff is getting the grip of special interests off the throat of Congress. 
We do not propose that special interests shall any longer camp in the 
rooms of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House and the 
Finance Committee of the Senate. We mean that those shall be places 
where the people of the United States shall come and be represented, 
in order that everything may be done in the general interest, and not 
in the interest of particular groups of persons who already dominate 
the industries and the industrial development of this country. Because 
no matter how wise these gentlemen may be, no matter how patriotic, 
no matter how singularly they may be gifted with the power to divine 
the right courses of business, there isn’t any group of men in the United 
States or in any other country who are wise enough to have the destinies 
of a great people put into their hands as trustees. We mean that business 
in this land shall be released, emancipated. 

99 


8 


Monopoly, or Opportunity? 


Gentlemen say, they have been saying for a long time, and, 
therefore, I assume that they believe, that trusts are inevitable. They 
don’t say that big business is inevitable. They don’t say merely that the 
elaboration of business upon a great co-operative scale is characteristic 
of our time and has come about by the natural operation of modern 
civilization. We would admit that. But they say that the particular 
kind of combinations that are now controlling our economic develop¬ 
ment came into existence naturally and were inevitable; and that, 
therefore, we have to accept them as unavoidable and administer our 
development through them. They take the analogy of the railways. 
The railways were clearly inevitable if we were to have transportation, 
but railways after they are once built stay put. You can’t transfer a 
railroad at convenience; and you can’t shut up one part of it and work 
another part. It is in the nature of what economists, those tedious 
persons, call natural monopolies; simply because the whole circum¬ 
stances of their use are so stiff that you can’t alter them. Such are the 
analogies which these gentlemen choose when they discuss the modem 
trust. 

I admit the popularity of the theory that the trusts have 
come about through the natural development of business conditions in 
the United States, and that it is a mistake to try to oppose the processes 
by which they have been built up, because those processes belong to 


ioi 



MONOPOLY, OR OPPORTUNITY? 

the very nature of business in our time, and that therefore the only 
thing we can do, and the only thing we ought to attempt to do, is to 
accept them as inevitable arrangements and make the best out of it 
that we can by regulation. 

I answer, nevertheless, that this attitude rests upon a con¬ 
fusion of thought. Big business is no doubt to a large extent necessary 
and natural. The development of business upon a great scale, upon a 
great scale of co-operation, is inevitable, and, let me add, is probably 
desirable. But that is a very different matter from the development of 
trusts, because the trusts have not grown. They have been artificially 
created; they have been put together, not by natural processes, but by 
the will, the deliberate planning will, of men who were more powerful 
than their neighbors in the business world, and who wished to make 
their power secure against competition. 

The trusts do not belong to the period of infant industries. They are 
not the products of the time, that old laborious time, when the great 
continent we live on was undeveloped, the young nation struggling to 
find itself and get upon its feet amidst older and more experienced 
competitors. They belong to a very recent and very sophisticated age, 
when men knew what they wanted and knew how to get it by the favor 
of the government. 

Did you ever look into the way a trust was made? It is very natural, 
in one sense, in the same sense in which human greed is natural. If I 
haven’t efficiency enough to beat my rivals, then the thing I am in¬ 
clined to do is to get together with my rivals and say: “Don’t let’s cut 
each other’s throats; let’s combine and determine prices for ourselves; 
determine the output, and thereby determine the prices: and dominate 
and control the market.” That is very natural. That has been done ever 
since fireebooting was established. That has been done ever since power 
was used to establish control. The reason that the masters of combina- 
tion have sought to shut out competition is that the basis of control 
under competition is brains and efficiency. I admit that any large 
corporation built up by the legitimate processes of business, by econ¬ 
omy, by efficiency, is natural; and I am not afraid of it, no matter how 

102 



MONOPOLY, OR OPP ORTUNITY? 

big it grows. It can stay big only by doing its work more thoroughly 
than anybody else. And there is a point of bigness,—as every business 
man in this country knows, though some of them will not admit it,— 
where you pass the limit of efficiency and get into the region of clumsi¬ 
ness and unwieldiness. You can make your combine so extensive that 
you can t digest it into a single system; you can get so many parts that 
you can t assemble them as you would an effective piece of machinery. 
The point of efficiency is overstepped in the natural process of develop¬ 
ment oftentimes, and it has been overstepped many times in the 
artificial and deliberate formation of trusts. 

A trust is formed in this way: a few gentlemen “promote 15 it—that 
is to say, they get it up, being given enormous fees for their kindnes^ 
which fees are loaded on to the undertaking in the form of securities of 
one kind or another. The argument of the promoters is, not that every 
one who comes into the combination can carry on his business more 
efficiently than he did before; the argument is: we will assi gn to you 
as your share in the pool twice, three times, four tim*^ or five times 
what you could have sold your business for to an individual competitor 
who would have to run it on an economic and competitive basis. "We csm 
afford to buy it at such a figure because we are shutting out competi¬ 
tion. We can afford to make the stock of the combination half a dozen 
times what it naturally would be and pay dividends on it, because 
there win be nobody to dispute the prices we shall fix. 

Talk of that as sound business? Talk of that as inevitable? It is based 
upon nothing except power. It is not based upon efficiency. It is no 
wonder that the big trusts are not prospering in proportion to such 
competitors as they still have in such parts of their business as com¬ 
petitors have access to; they are prospering freely only in these fields 
to which competition has no access. Read the statistics of the Steel 
Trust, if you don’t believe it. Read the statistics of any trust. They are 
constantly nervous about competition, and they are constantly buying 
up new competitors in order to narrow the field. The United States 
Steel Corporation is gaining in its supremacy in the American market 
only with regard to the cruder manufactures of iron and steel, but 

103 


MONOPOLY, OR OPPORTUNITY? 

wherever, as in the field of more advanced manufactures of iron and 
steel, it has important competitors, its portion of the product is not 
inareasing, but is decreasing, and its competitors, where they have a 
foothold, are often more efficient than it is. 

Why? Why, with unlimited capital and innumerable mines and 
plants everywhere in the United States, can’t they beat the other fellows 
in the market? Partly because they are carrying too much. Partly be¬ 
cause they are unwieldy. Their organization is imperfect. They bought 
up inefficient plants along with efficient, and they have got to carry 
what they have paid for, even if they have to shut some of the plants 
up in order to make any interest on their investments; or, rather, not 
interest on their investments, because that is an incorrect word,—on 
their alleged capitalization. Here we have a lot of giants staggering 
along under an almost intolerable weight of artificial burdens, which 
they have put on their own backs, and constantly looking about lest 
some little pigmy with a round stone in a sling may come out and 
slay them. 

For my part, I want the pigmy to have a chance to come out. And I 
foresee a time when the pigmies will be so much more athletic, so much 
more astute, so much more active, than the giants, that it will be a case 
of Jack the giant-killer. Just let some of the youngsters I know have a 
chance and they 3 ! give these gentlemen points. Lend them a little 
money. They can’t get any now. See to it that when they have got a 
local market they can’t be squeezed out of it. Give them a chance to 
capture that market and then see them capture another one and an¬ 
other one, until these men who are carrying an intolerable load of 
artificial securities find that they have got to get down to hard pan to 
keep their foothold at all. I am willing to let Jack come into the field 
with the giant, and if Jack has the brains that some Jacks that I know 
in America have, then I should like to see the giant get the better of 
Mm, with the load that he, the giant, has to carry,—the load of water. 
For I’ll undertake to put a water-logged giant out of business any time, 
if you wifi give me a fair field and as much credit as I am entitled to, 

104 




MONOPOLY, OR OPPORTUNITY? 

and let the law do what from time immemorial law has been expected 
to do,—see fair play. 

As for watered stock, I know all the sophistical arguments, and they 
are many, for capitalizing earning capacity. It Is a very attractive and 
interesting argument, and in some instances it is legitimately used. But 
there Is a line you cross, above which you are not capitalizing your 
earning capacity, but capitalizing your control of the market, capital¬ 
izing the profits which you got by your control of the market, and 
didn’t get by efficiency and economy. These things are not hidden even 
from the layman. These are not half-hidden from college men. The 
college men’s days of innocence have passed, and their days of sophis¬ 
tication have come. They know what is going on, because we live in a 
talkative world, full of statistics, full of congressional inquiries, full of 
trials of persons who have attempted to live independently of the 
statutes of the United States; and so a great many things have come to 
light under oath, which we must believe upon the credibility of the 
witnesses who are, indeed, in many Instances very eminent .and re¬ 
spectable witnesses. 

I take my stand absolutely, where every progressive ought to take 
his stand, on the proposition that private monopoly is indefensible and 
.intolerable. And there I will fight my battle. And I know how to fight 
it. Everybody who has even read the newspapers knows the means by 
which these men built up their power and created these monopolies. 
Any decently equipped lawyer can suggest to you statutes by which the 
whole business can be stopped. What these gentlemen do not want is 
this: they do not want to be compelled to meet all comers on equal 
terms. I am perfectly willing that they should beat any competitor by 
fair means; but I know the foul means they have adopted, and I know 
that they can be stopped by law. If they think that coming into the 
market upon the basis of mere efficiency, upon the mere basis of know¬ 
ing how to manufacture goods better than anybody else and to sell 
them cheaper than anybody else, they can carry the immense amount 
of water that they have put into their enterprises in order to buy up 

105 




MONOPOLY, OR OPPORTUNITY? 

rivals, then they are perfectly welcome to try it. But there must be no 
squeezing out of the beginner, no crippling his credit; no discrimina¬ 
tion against retailers who buy from a rival; no threats against concerns 
who sell supplies to a rival; no holding back of raw material from him; 
no secret arrangements against him. All the fair competition you 
choose, but no unfair competition of any kind. And then when unfair 
competition is eliminated, let us see these gentlemen carry their tanks 
of water on their backs. All that I ask and all I shall fight for is that 
they shall come into the field against merit and brains everywhere. 
If they can beat other American brains, then they have got the best 
brains. 

But if you want to know how far brains go, as things now are, suppose 
you try to match your better wares against these gentlemen, and see 
them undersell you before your market is any bigger than the locality 
and make it absolutely impossible for you to get a fast foothold. If you 
want to know how brains count, originate some invention which will 
improve the kind of machinery they are using, and then see if you can 
borrow enough money to manufacture it. You may be offered some¬ 
thing for your patent by the corporation,—which will perhaps lock it 
up in a safe and go on using the old machinery; but you will not be 
allowed to manufacture. I know men who have tried it, and they 
could not get the money, because the great money lenders of this 
country are in the arrangement with the great manufacturers of this 
country, and they do not propose to see their control of the market 
interfered with by outsiders. And who are outsiders? Why, all the rest 
of the people of the United States are outsiders. 

They are rapidly making us outsiders with respect even of the things 
that come from the bosom of the earth, and which belong to us in a 
peculiar sense. Certain monopolies in this country have gained almost 
complete control of the raw material, chiefly in the mines, out of which 
the great body of manufactures are carried on, and they now discrimi¬ 
nate, when they will, in the sale of that raw material between those 
who are rivals of the monopoly and those who submit to the monopoly. 
We must soon come to the point where we shall say to the men who 

106 


MONOPOLY, OR OPPORTUNITY? 

own these essentials of industry that they have got to part with these 
essentials by sale to all citizens of the United States with the same 
readiness and upon the same terms. Or else we shall tie up the resources 
of this country under private control in such fashion as will make our 
independent development absolutely impossible. 

There is another injustice that monopoly engages in. The trust that 
deals in the cruder products which are to be transformed into the more 
elaborate manufactures often will not sell these crude products except 
upon the terms of monopoly,—that is to say, the people that deal with 
them must buy exclusively from them. And so again you have the lines 
of development tied up and the connections of development knotted 
and fastened so that you cannot wrench them apart. 

Again, the manufacturing monopolies are so interlaced in their per¬ 
sonal relationships with the great shipping interests of this country, 
and with the great railroads, that they can often largely determine the 
rates of shipment. 

The people of this country are being very subtly dealt with. You 
know, of course, that, unless our Commerce Commissions are absolutely 
sleepless, you can get rebates without calling them such at all. The most 
complicated study I know of is the classification of freight by the railway 
company. If I wanted to make a special rate on a special thing, all I 
should have to do is to put it in a special class in the freight classifica¬ 
tion, and the trick is done. And when you reflect that the twenty-four 
men who control the United States Steel Corporation, for example, are 
either presidents or vice-presidents or directors in 55 per cent, of the 
railways of the United States, reckoning by the valuation of those rail¬ 
roads and the amount of their stock and bonds, you know just how 
close the whole thing is knitted together in our industrial system, and 
how great the temptation is. These twenty-four gentlemen administer 
that corporation as if it belonged to them. The amazing thing to me 
is that the people of the United States have not seen that the adminis¬ 
tration of a great business like that is not a private affair; it is a public 
affair. 

I have been told by a great many men that the idea I have, that by 

107 


MONOPOLY, OR OPPORTUNITY? 

restoring competition you can restore industrial freedom, is based upon 
a failure to observe the actual happenings of the last decades in this 
country; because, they say, it is just free competition that has made it 
possible for the big to crush the little. 

I reply, it is not free competition that has done that; it is illicit com¬ 
petition. It is competition of the kind that the law ought to stop, and 
can stop,—this crushing of the little man. 

You know, of course, how the little man is crushed by the trusts. He 
gets a local market. The big concerns come in and underseE him in his 
local market, and that is the only market he has; if he cannot make a 
profit there, he is killed. They can make a profit aU through the rest of 
the Union, while they are underselling him in his locality, and recoup¬ 
ing themselves by what they can earn elsewhere. Thus their competi¬ 
tors can be put out of business, one by one, wherever they dare to show 
a head. Inasmuch as they rise up only one by one, these big concerns 
can see to it that new competitors never come into the larger field. 
You have to begin somewhere. You can't begin in space. You can't 
begin in an airship. You have got to begin in some community. Your 
market has got to be your neighbors first and those who know you 
there. But unless you have unlimited capital (which of course you 
wouldn’t have when you were beginning) or unlimited credit (which 
these gentlemen can see to it that you shan't get), they can kiE you out 
in your local market any time they try, on the same basis exactly as 
that on which they beat organized labor; for they can seE at a loss in 
your market because they are selling at a profit everywhere else, and 
they can recoup the losses by which they beat you by the profits which 
they make in fields where they have beaten other feHows and put them 
out. If ever a competitor who by good luck has plenty of money does 
break into the wider market, then the trust has to buy him out, paying 
three or four times what the business is worth. FoEowing such a pur¬ 
chase it has got to pay the interest on the price it has paid for the busi¬ 
ness, and it has got to tax the whole people of the United States, in 
order to pay the interest on what it borrowed to do that, or on the 
stocks and bonds it issued to do it with. Therefore the big trusts, the 

108 



MONOPOLY, OR OPPORTUNITY? 

big combinations, arc the most wasteful, the most uneconomical, and, 
after they pass a certain size, the most inefficient, way of conducting 
the industries of this country. 

A notable example is the way in which Mr. Carnegie was bought out 
of the steel business. Mr. Carnegie could build better mills and make 
better steel rails and make them cheaper than anybody else connected 
with what afterward became the United States Steel Corporation. They 
didn’t dare leave him outside. He had so much more brains in finding 
out the best processes; he had so much more shrewdness in surrounding 
himself with the most successful assistants; he knew so well when a 
young man who came into his employ was fit for promotion and was 
ripe to put at the head of some branch of his business and was sure 
to make good, that he could undersell every mother’s son of them in 
the market for steel rails. And they bought him out at a price that 
amounted to three or four times,—I believe actually five times,—the 
estimated value of his properties and of his business, because they 
couldn’t beat him in competition. And then in what they charged 
afterward for their product,—the product of his mills included,—they 
made us pay the interest on the four or five times the difference. 

That is the difference between a big business and a trust. A trust is 
an arrangement to get rid of competition, and a big business is a 
business that has survived competition by conquering in the field of 
intelligence and economy. A trust does not bring efficiency to the aid 
of business; it buys efficiency out of business. I am for big business, and I 
am against the trusts. Any man who can survive by his brains, any 
man who can put the others out of the business by making the thing 
cheaper to the consumer at the same time that he is increasing its 
intrinsic value and quality, I take off my hat to, and I say: “You are 
the man who can build up the United States, and I wish there were 
more of you.” 

There will not be more, unless we find a way to prevent monopoly. 
You know perfectly well that a trust business staggering under a cap¬ 
italization many times too big is not a business that can afford to admit 
competitors into the field; because the minute an economical business, 

109 


MONOPOLY, OR OPPORTUNITY? 


a business with its capital down to hard pan, with every ounce of its 
capital working, comes into the field against such an overloaded cor¬ 
poration, it will inevitably beat it and undersell it; therefore it is to the 
interest of these gentlemen that monopoly be maintained. They cannot 
rule the markets of the world in any way but by monopoly. It is not 
surprising to find them helping to found a new party with a fine pro¬ 
gram of benevolence, but also with a tolerant acceptance of monopoly. 

There is another matter to which we must direct our attention, 
whether we like it or not. I do not take these things into my mouth 
because they please my palate; I do not talk about them because I 
want to attack anybody or upset anything; I talk about them because 
only by open speech about them among ourselves shall we learn what 
the facts are. 

You will notice from a recent investigation 1 that things like this take 
place: A certain bank invests in certain securities. It appears from 
evidence that the h andling of these securities was very intimately con¬ 
nected with the m ai ntenance of the price of a particular commodity. 
Nobody ought, and in normal circumstances nobody would, for a 
moment think of suspecting the managers of a great bank of making 
such an investment in order to help those who were conducting a 
particular business in the United States maintain the price of their 
commodity; but the circumstances are not normal. It is beginning to 
be believed that in the big business of this country nothing is discon¬ 
nected from anything else. I do not mean in this particular instance to 
which I have referred, and I do not have in mind to draw any inference 
at all, for that would be unjust; but take any investment of an industrial 
character by a great bank. It is known that the directorate of that 
bank interlaces in personnel with ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty 
boards of directors of all sorts, of railroads which handle commodities, 
of great groups of m an uf acturers which manufacture commodities, and 

1 A House subcommittee, the Pujo committee, launched an investigation of the 
money trust” in 1912. With Samuel Untermyer as its counsel, the committee 
revealed the concentration of control of credit in the hands of a few men. 

no 



MONOPOLY, OR OPPORTUNITY? 

of great merchants who distribute commodities; and the result is that 
every great bank is under suspicion with regard to the motive of its 
investments. It is at least considered possible that it is playing the game 
of somebody who has nothing to do with banking, but with whom 
some of its directors are connected and joined in interest. The ground 
of unrest and uneasiness, in short, on the part of the public at large, 
is the growing knowledge that many large undertakings are interlaced 
with one another, are indistinguishable from one another in personnel. 

Therefore, when a small group of men approach Congress in order 
to induce the committee concerned to concur in certain legislation, 
nobody knows the ramifications of the interests which those men repre¬ 
sent; there seems no frank and open action of public opinion in pubBc 
counsel, but every man is suspected of representing some other mam 
and it is not known where his connections begin or end. 

I am one of those who have been so fortunately circumstanced that 
I have had the opportunity to study the way in which these things 
come about in complete disconnection from them, and I do not suspect 
that any man has deliberately planned the system. I am not so unim- 
structed and misinformed as to suppose that there is a deliberate and 
malevolent combination somewhere to dominate the government of 
the United States. I merely say that, by certain processes, now well 
known, and perhaps natural in themselves, there has come about am 
extraordinary and very sinister concentration in the control of business 
in the country. 

However it has come about, it is more important still that the control 
of credit also has become dangerously centralized. It is the mere truth 
to say that the financial resources of the country are not at the com¬ 
mand of those who do not submit to the direction and domination of 
small groups of capitalists who wish to keep the economic development 
of the country under their own eye and guidance. The great monopoly 
in this country is the monopoly of big credits. So long as that exists, 
our old variety and freedom and individual energy of development are 
out of the question. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system 
of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth 


hi 


MONOPOLY, OR OPPORTUNITY? 

of the nation, therefore, and ail our activities are in the hands of a few 
men who, even if their action be honest and intended for the public 
interest, are necessarily concentrated upon the great undertakings in 
which their own money is involved and who necessarily, by very reason 
of their own limitations, chill and check and destroy genuine economic 
freedom. This is the greatest question of all, and to this statesmen must 
address themselves with an earnest determination to serve the long 
future and the true liberties of men. 

This money trust, or, as it should be more properly called, this credit 
trust, of which Congress has begun an investigation, is no myth; it is 
no imaginary thing. It is not an ordinary trust like another. It doesn't 
do business every day. It does business only when there is occasion to 
do business. You can sometimes do some thin g large when it isn't 
watching, but when it is watching, you can’t do much. And I have 
seen men squeezed by it; I have seen men who, as they themselves 
expressed it, were put “out of business by Wall Street,” because Wall 
Street found them inconvenient, and didn't want their competition. 

Let me say again that I am not impugning the motives of the men in 
Wall Street. They may thi n k that that is the best way to create pros¬ 
perity for the country. When you have got the market in your hand, 
does honesty oblige you to turn the palm upside down and empty it? 
If you have got the market in your hand and believe that you under¬ 
stand the interest of the country better than anybody else, is it patriotic 
to let it go? I can imagine them using this argument to themselves. 

The do min ating danger in this land is not the existence of great 
individual combinations,—that is dangerous enough in all conscience, 
but the combination of the combinations,—of the railways, the 
manufacturing enterprises, the great mining projects, the great enter¬ 
prises for the development of the natural water-powers of the country, 
threaded together in the personnel of a series of boards of directors into 
a “community of interest” more formidable th an any conceivable single 
combination th at dare appear in the open. 

The organization of business has become more centralized, vastly 
more centralized, than the political organization of the country itself. 

112 


MONOPOLY, OR OPPORTUNITY? 

Corporations have come to cover greater areas than states; have come 
to live under a greater variety of laws than the citizen himself, have 
excelled states in their budgets and loomed bigger than whole common¬ 
wealths in their influence over the lives and fortunes of entire com¬ 
munities of men. Centralized business has built up vast structures of 
organization and equipment which overtop all states and seem to have 
no match or competitor except the federal government itself. 

What we have got to do,—and it is a colossal task not to be under¬ 
taken with a light head or without judgment,—what we have got to 
do is to disentangle this colossal 4 ‘community of interest.” No matter 
how we may purpose dealing with a single combination in restraint of 
trade, you will agree with me in this, that no single, avowed, combi¬ 
nation is big enough for the United States to be afraid of; but when all 
the combinations are combined and this final combination is not dis¬ 
closed by any process of incorporation or law, but is merely an identity 
of personnel, or of interest, then there is something that even the 
government of the nation itself might come to fear,—something for 
the law to pull apart, and gently, but firmly and persistently, dissect. 

You know that the chemist distinguishes between a chemioal com¬ 
bination and an amalgam. A chemical combination has done some¬ 
thing which I cannot scientifically describe, but its molecules become 
intimate with one another and have practically uni ted, whereas an 
amalgam has a mere physical union created by pressure from without. 
Now, you can destroy that mere physical contact without hurting the 
individual elements, and this community of interest is an a m algam; 
you can break it up without hurting any one of the single interests 
combined. Not that I am particularly delicate of some of the interests 
combined,—I am not under bonds to be unduly poEte to them,—but 
I am interested in the business of the country, and believe its integrity 
depends upon this dissection. I do not beHeve any one group of men 
has vision enough or genius enough to deter mi ne what the development 
of opportunity and the accomplishment by achievement shall be in 
this country. 

The facts of the situation amount to this: that a comparatively smal 

113 


i.-: 



r 


MONOPOLY, OR OPPORTUNITY? 

number of men control the raw material of this country; that a com¬ 
paratively small number of men control the water-powers that can be 
made useful for the economical production of the energy to drive our 
machinery; that that same number of men largely control the rail¬ 
roads; that by agreements handed around among themselves they 
control prices, and that that same group of men control the larger 
credits of the country. 


When we undertake the strategy which is going to be necessary to 
overcome and destroy this far-reaching system of monopoly, we are 
rescuing' the business of this country, we are not injuring it; and when 
we separate the interests from each other and dismember these com¬ 
munities of connection, we have in mind a greater community of 
interest, a vaster community of interest, the co mmuni ty of interest 
that binds the virtues of all men together, that community of mankind 
which is broad and catholic enough to take under the sweep of its 
comprehension all sorts and conditions of men; that vision which sees 
that no society is renewed from the top but that every society is re¬ 
newed from the bottom. limit opportunity, restrict the field of origina¬ 
tive achievement, and you have cut out the heart and root of all 
prosperity. 

The only t hing that can ever make a free country is to keep a free 
and hopeful heart under every jacket in it. Honest American industry 
has always thriven, when it has thriven at all, on freedom; it has never 
thriven on monopoly. It is a great deal better to shift for yourselves 
dan to be taken care of by a great combination of capital. I, for my 
part, do not want to be taken care of. I would rather starve a free man 
than be fed a mere thing at the caprice of those who are organizing 
American industry as they please to organize it. I know, and every 
man in Ms heart knows, that the only way to enrich America is to 
make it possible for any man who has the brains to get into the game. 

I am not jealous of the size of any business that has grown to that size. 

114 




MONOPOLY, OR OPPORTUNITY? 


I am not jealous of any process of growth, no matter how huge the 
result, provided the result was indeed obtained by the processes of 
wholesome development, which are the processes of efficiency, of 
economy, of intelligence, and of invention. 


Ir 5 


Benevolence, or Justice? 


The doctrine that monopoly is inevitable and that the only 
course open to the people of the United States is to submit to and 
regulate it found a champion during the campaign of 1912 in the sew 
party, or branch of the Republican party, founded under the leadership 
of Mr. Roosevelt, with the conspicuous aid,—I mention Mm with no 
satirical intention, but merely to set the facts down accurately,—of 
Mr. George W. Perkins, organizer of the Steel Trust and the Harvester 
Trust, and with the support of more than three millions of citizens^ 
many of them among the most patriotic, conscientious and high- 
minded men and women of the land. 1 The fact that its acceptance of 
monopoly was a feature of the new party platform from which the 
attention of the generous and just was diverted by the charm of a social 
program of great attractiveness to all concerned for the amelioration 
of the lot of those who suffer wrong and privation, and the further fact 
that, even so, the platform was repudiated by the majority of the 

i When Theodore Roosevelt failed to win the Republican nomination in 1912, 
lie and many of his followers, who believed he had teen denied the nomination by 
fraud, bolted the party and created the Progressive Party. One tenet of Roosevelt’s 
c *New Nationalism” was that the concentration of industry was inevitable and 
beneficial, and that the new amalgamations should not be dismembered but regu¬ 
lated. Perkins, a partner of J. P. Morgan and Company, who helped organize the 
International Harvester Company and was a director of the United States Steel 
Corporation, shared Roosevelt’s views on the trusts. He contributed heavily to 
Roosevelt’s campaign, and served as chairman of the Progressive National Gam- 




BENEVOLENCE, OR JUSTICE? 

nation, render it no less necessary to reflect on the significance of the 
confession made for the first time by any party in the country’s history. 
It may be useful, in order to the relief of the minds of many from an 
error of no small magnitude, to consider now, the heat of a presidential 
contest being past, exactly what it was that Mr. Roosevelt proposed. 

Mr. Roosevelt attached to his platform some very splendid 
suggestions as to noble enterprises which we ought to undertake for the 
uplift of the human race; but when I hear an ambitious platform put 
forth, I am very much more interested in the dynamics of it than in 
the rhetoric of it. I have a very practical mind, and I want to know 
who are going to do those things and how they are going to be done. If 
you have read the trust plank in that platform as often as I have read 
it, you have found it very long, but very tolerant. It did not anywhere 
condemn monopoly, except in words; its essential meaning was that 
the trusts have been bad and must be made to be good. You know that 
Mr. Roosevelt long ago classified trusts for us as good and bad, and he 
said that he was afraid only of the bad ones. Now he does not desire 
that there should be any more bad ones, but proposes that they should 
all be made good by discipline, directly applied by a commission of 
executive appointment. All he explicitly complains of is lack of pub¬ 
licity and lack of fairness; not the exercise of power, for throughout 
that plank the power of the great corporations is accepted as the inevi¬ 
table consequence of the modern organization of industry. All that it 
is proposed to do is to take them under control and regulation. The 
national administration having for sixteen years been virtually under 
the regulation of the trusts, it would be merely a family matter were 
the parts reversed and were the other members of the family to exercise 
the regulation. And the trusts, apparently, which might, in such 
circumstances, comfortably continue to administer our affairs under 
the mollifying influences of the federal government, would then, if you 
please, be the instrumentalities by which all the humanistic, benevolent 
program of the rest of that interesting platform would be carried out! 

I have read and reread that plank, so as to be sure that I get it right. 
All that it complains of is,—and the complaint is a just one, surely,— 

118 


BENEVOLENCE, OR JUSTICE? 

that these gentlemen exercise their power in a way that is secret. 
Therefore, we must have publicity. Sometimes they are arbitrary; 
therefore they need regulation. Sometimes they do not consult the 
general interests of the community; therefore they need to be reminded 
of those general interests by an industrial commission. But at every 
turn it is the trusts who are to do us good, and not we ourselves. 

Again, I absolutely protest against being put into the hands of 
trustees. Mr. Roosevelt’s conception of government is Mr. Taft’s con¬ 
ception, that the Presidency of the United States is the presidency of a 
board of directors. I am willing to admit that if the people of the United 
States cannot get justice for themselves, then it is high time that they 
should join the third party and get it from somebody else. The justice 
proposed is very beautiful; it is very attractive; there were planks in 
that platform which stir all the sympathies of the heart; they proposed 
things that we all want to do; but the question is, Who is going to do 
them? Through whose instrumentality? Are Americans ready to ask 
the trusts to give us in pity what we ought, in justice, to take? 

The third party says that the present system of our industry and 
trade has come to stay. Mind you, these artificially built up things* 
these things that can’t maintain themselves in the market without 
monopoly, have come to stay, and the only thing that the government 
can do, the only thing that the third party proposes should be done, 
is to set up a commission to regulate them. It accepts them. It says: 
44 We will not undertake, it were futile to undertake, to prevent monop¬ 
oly, but we will go into an arrangement by which we will make these 
monopolies kind to you. We will guarantee that they shall be pitiful. 
We will guarantee that they shall pay the right wages. We will guaran¬ 
tee that they shall do everything kind and pubic-spirited, which they 
have never heretofore shown the least inclination to do. 

Don’t you realize that that is a bind alley? You can’t find your way 
to liberty that way. You can’t find your way to social reform through 
the forces that have made social reform necessary. 

The fundamental part of such a program is that the trusts shal be 
recognized as a permanent part of our economic order, and that the 


119 


BENEVOLENCE, OR JUSTICE? 


government shall try to make trusts the ministers, the instruments, 
through which the life of this country shall be justly and happily de¬ 
veloped on its industrial side. Now, everything that touches our lives 
sooner or later goes back to the industries which sustain our lives. I 
have often reflected that there is a very human order in the petitions 
in our Lord’s prayer. For we pray first of all, “Give us this day our 
daily bread,” knowing that it is useless to pray for spiritual graces on 
an empty stomach, and that the amount of wages we get, the kind of 
clothes we wear, the kind of food we can afford to buy, is fundamental 
to everything else. 

Those who administer our physical life, therefore, administer our 
spiritual life; and if we are going to carry out the fine purpose of that 
great chorus which supporters of the third party sang almost with 
religious fervor, 2 then we have got to find out through whom these 
purposes of hu ma nity are going to be realized. It is a mere enterprise, 
so far as that part of it is concerned, of making the monopolies philan¬ 
thropic. 

I do not want to live under a philanthropy. I do not want to be taken 
care of by the government, either directly, or by any instruments 
through which the government is acting. I want only to have right and 
justice prevail, so far as I am concerned. Give me right and justice and 
I will undertake to take care of myself. If you enthrone the trusts as the 
means of the development of this country under the supervision of the 
government, then I shall pray the old Spanish proverb, “God save me 
from my friends, and Pll take care of my enemies.” Because I want to 
be saved from these friends. Observe that I say these friends, for I am 
ready to admit that a great many men who believe that the develop¬ 
ment of industry in this country through monopolies is inevitable in¬ 
tend to be the friends of the people. Though they profess to be my 
friends, they are undertaking a way of friendship which renders it 
Impossible that they should do me the fundamental service that I 


me evsplieai fovor of delegates to the Progressive Party convention in 
Chicago in August 1912 was expressed in singing “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” 


120 


BENEVOLENCE, OR JUSTICE? 

demand—namely, that I should be free and should have the same 
opportunities that everybody else has. 

For I understand it to be the fundamental proposition of American 
liberty that we do not desire special privilege, because we know 
special privilege will never comprehend the general welfare. This is 
the fundamental, spiritual difference between adherents of the party 
now about to take charge of the government and those who have been 
in charge of it in recent years. They are so indoctrinated with the idea 
that only the big business interests of this country understand the 
United States and can make it prosperous that they cannot divorce 
their thoughts from that obsession. They have put the government into 
the hands of trustees, and Mr. Taft and Mr. Roosevelt were the rival 
candidates to preside over the board of trustees. They ware candidates 
to serve the people, no doubt, to the best of their ability, but it was not 
their idea to serve them directly; they proposed to serve them indirectly 
through the enormous forces already set up, which are so great that 
there is almost an open question whether the government of the United 
States with the people back of It is strong enough to overcome and rule 
them. 

Shall we try to get the grip of monopoly away from our lives, or 
Rhall we not? Shall we withhold our hand and say monopoly is in¬ 
evitable, that all that we can do is to regulate it? Shall we say that all 
that we do is to put government in competition with monopoly 
and try its strength against it? Shall we admit that the creature of our 
own hands is stronger than we are? We have been dreading a! along 
the time when the combined power erf high finance would be greater 
than the power of the government. Have we come to a time when the 
President of the United States or any man who wishes to be the 
President must doff his cap in the presence of this high finance, and 
say, “You are our inevitable master, but we will see how we can make 
the best of it ? 55 

We are at the parting of the ways. We have, not one or two or three, 

121 


BENEVOLENCE, OR JUSTICE? 

but many, established and formidable monopolies in the United States. 
We have, not one or two, but many, fields of endeavor into which it is 
diffic ult, if not impossible, for the independent man to enter. We have 
restricted credit, we have restricted opportunity, we have controlled 
development, and we have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of 
the most completely controlled and dominated, governments in the 
civilized world—no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a 
government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a govern¬ 
ment by the opinion and the duress of small groups of dominant men. 

If the government is to tell big business men how to run their busi¬ 
ness, then don’t you see that big business men have to get closer to the 
government even than they are now? Don’t you see that they must 
capture the government, in order not to be restrained too much by it? 
Must capture the government? They have already captured it. Are 
you going to invite those inside to stay inside? They don’t have to get 
there. They are there. Are you going to own your own premises, or are 
you not? That is your choice. Are you going to say: “You didn’t get 
into the house the right way, but you are in there, God bless you; we 
will stand out here in the cold and you can hand us out something 
once in a while?” 

At the least, under the plan I am opposing, there will be an avowed 
partnership between the government and the trusts. I take it that the 
firm will be ostensibly controlled by the senior member. For I take it 
that the government of the United States is at least the senior member, 
though the younger member has all along been running the business. 
But when all the momentum, when all the energy, when a great deal 
of the genius, as so often happens in partnerships the world over, is 
with the junior partner, I don’t think that the superintendence of the 
senior partner is going to amount to very much. And I don’t believe 
that benevolence can be read into the hearts of the trusts by the super¬ 
intendence and suggestions of the federal government; because the 
government has never within my recollection had its suggestions ac¬ 
cepted by the trusts. On the contrary, the suggestions of the trusts have 
been accepted by the government. 


122 


BENEVOLENCE, OR JUSTICE? 

There is no hope to be seen for the people of the United States until 
the partnership is dissolved. And the business of the party now en¬ 
trusted with power is going to be to dissolve it. 


Those who supported the third party supported, I believe, a program 
perfectly agreeable to the monopolies. How those who have been fight¬ 
ing monopoly through all their career can reconcile the continuation 
of the battle under the banner of the very men they have been fighting, 
I cannot imagine. I challenge the program in its fundamentals as not 
a progressive program at all. Why did Mr. Gary suggest this very 
method when he was at the head of the Steel Trust?* Why is this very 
method commended here, there, and everywhere by the men who are 
interested in the maintenance of the present economic system of the 
United States? Why do the men who do not wish to be disturbed urge 
the adoption of this program? The rest of the program is very hand¬ 
some; there is beating in it a great pulse of sympathy for the human 
race. But I do not want the sympathy of the trusts for the human race. 
I do not want their condescending assistance. 


And I warn every progressive Republican that by lending his assist¬ 
ance to this program he is playing false to the very cause in which he 
had enlisted. That cause was a battle against monopoly, against 
control, against the concentration of power in our economic develop¬ 
ment, against all those things that interfere with absolutely free enter¬ 
prise. I believe that some day these gentlemen will wake up and realize 
that they have misplaced their trust, not in an individual, it may be, 
but in a program which is fatal to the things we hold dearest. 

If there is any meaning in the things I have been urging, it is this, 
that the incubus that lies upon this country is the present monopolistic 
organization of our industrial life. That is the thing which certain 
Republicans became “insurgents” in order to throw off . 4 And yet some 

* Tudtre Elbert H. Gary, chairman of the board of directors of the United States 
Steel Corporahon had proposed government price fixing for monopolies as an 

Republican prog.,** 
who rebelled against Taft and the Eutem 

1909-12 era. Some, like Senator Albert J. Beveridge followed Roosevelt into tne 


123 





BENEVOLENCE, OR JUSTICE? 


of them allowed themselves to be so misled as to go into the camp of 
the third party in order to remove what the third party proposed to 
legalize. My point is that this is a method conceived from the point of 
view of the very men who are to be controlled, and that this is just the 
wrong point of view from which to conceive it. 

I said not long ago that Mr. Roosevelt was promoting a plan for the 
control of monopoly which was supported by the United States Steel 
Corporation. Mr. Roosevelt denied that he was being supported by 
mere than one member of that corporation . 6 He was thinking of 
money. I was t hinki ng of ideas. I did not say that he was getting money 
from these gentlemen; it was a matter of indifference to me where he 
got his money; but it was a matter of a great deal of difference to me 
where he got Ms ideas. He got his idea with regard to the regulation of 
monopoly from the gentlemen who form the United States Steel 
Corporation. I am perfectly ready to admit that the gentlemen who 
control the United States Steel Corporation have a perfect right to 
entertain their own ideas about this and to urge them upon the people 
of the United States; but I want to say that their ideas are not my 
Ideas; and I am perfectly certain that they would not promote any 
idea which interfered with their monopoly. Inasmuch, therefore, as I 
hope and intend to interfere with monopoly just as much as possible, 

1 cannot subscribe to arrangements by which they know that it will 
not be disturbed. 

Hie Roosevelt plan is that there shall be an industrial commission 
charged with the supervision of the great monopolistic combinations 
which have been formed under the protection of the tariff, and that 
the government of the United States shall see to it that these gentlemen 
who have conquered labor shah be kind to labor. I find, then, the 
proposition to be this: That there shall be two masters, the great cor¬ 
poration, and over it the government of the United States; and I ask 
who is going to be master of the government of the United States? It 


Party; Ottes reluctantly backed Taft, while still others like Senator 

Robert M. La Follette supported Wilson In 1912. 

5 Geosge W. Perkins. 


124 



BENEVOLENCE, OR JUSTICE? 

has a master now,—those who in combination control these monop¬ 
olies. And if the government controlled by the monopolies in its turn 
controls the monopolies, the partnership is finally consummated. 

I don’t care how benevolent the master is going to be, I will not live 
under a master. That is not what America was created for. America 
was created in order that every man should have the same chance as. 
every other man to exercise mastery over Ms own fortunes. What I 
want to do is analogous to what the authorities of the city of Glasgow 
did with tenement houses. I want to light and patrol the corridors of 
these great organizations in order to see that nobody who tries to 
traverse them is waylaid and maltreated. If you will but hold off the 
adversaries, if you will but see to it that the weak are protected, I will 
venture a wager with you that there are some men in the United States, 
now weak, economically weak, who have brains enough to compete 
with these gentlemen and who will presently come into the market 
and put these gentlemen on their mettle. And the minute they come 
into the market there will be a bigger m arket for labor and a different 
wage scale for labor. 

Because it is susceptible of convincing proof that the Mgh-paid labor 
of America,—where it is Mgh paid,— is cheaper than the low-paid 
labor of the continent of Europe. Do you know that about ninety per 
cent, of those who are employed in labor in this country are not em¬ 
ployed in the “protected” industries, and that their wages are almost 
without exception Mgher than the wages of those who are employed in 
the “protected” industries? There is no corner on carpenters, there is 
no corner on bricklayers, there is no comer on scores of individual 
classes of skilled laborers; but there is a corner on the poolers in the 
furnaces, there is a corner on the men who dive down into the mines; 
they are in the grip of a controlling power wMch determines the 
market rates of wages in the United States. Only where labor is free 
is labor highly paid in America. 

When I am fighting monopolistic control, therefore, I am fighting 
for the liberty of every man in America, and I am fighting for the 
liberty of American industry. 

I2*> 



BENEVOLENCE, OR JUSTICE? 


It Is significant that the spokesman for the plan of adopting monop- 
dy declares Ms devoted adherence to the principle of “protection.” 
Only those duties wMch are manifestly too high even to serve the 
interests of those who are directly “protected” ought in his view to be 
lowered. He declares that he is not troubled by the fact that a very 
large amount of money is taken out of the pocket of the general tax¬ 
payer and put into the pocket of particular classes of “protected” 
manufacturers, but that his concern is that so little of this money gets 
into the pocket of the laboring man and so large a proportion of it into 
the pockets of the employers. I have searched his program very thor- 
ougMy for an indication of what he expects to do in order to see to it 
that a larger proportion of this “prize” money gets into the pay 
envelope, and have found none. Mr. Roosevelt, in one of his speeches, 
proposed that manufacturers who did not share their profits liberally 
enough with their workmen should be penalized by a sharp cut in the 
“protection” afforded them; but the platform, so far as I could see, 
proposed nothing. 


Moreover, under the system proposed, most employers,-at any rate, 
practically all of the most powerful of them,—would be, to all intents 
and purposes, wards and proteges of the government which is the 
master of us all; for no part of this program can be discussed intelli¬ 
gently without remembering that monopoly, as handled by it, is not 
to be prevented, but accepted. It is to be accepted and regulated. All 
attempt to resist it is to be given up. It is to be accepted as inevitable. 
Ihe government is to set up a commission whose duty it wifi be, not to 
chec* or defeat it, but merely to regulate it under rules which it is 
itself to frame and develop. So that the chief employers will have this 

ttem: what ^ *>> ** ^ w ^ 

ixense of the federal government to do. 

And it is worth the while of the workingmen of the country to recall 

* a ” tade toward organized labor has been of these masters of 

roTT 1 }, “ dUStIies whom h “ Proposed that the federal govera- 

““ “ C 38 ^ 35 ^der its control. They 

1-ve been the stoutest and most mccessfifi opponents of orgaSel 

126 


BENEVOLENCE, OR JUSTICE? 

labor, and they have tried to undermine it in a great many ways. Some 
of the ways they have adopted have worn the guise of philanthropy 
and good-will, and have no doubt been used, for all I know, in perfect 
good faith. Here and there they have set up systems of profit sharing, 
of compensation for injuries, and of bonuses, and even pensions; but 
every one of these plans has merely bound their workingmen more 
tightly to themselves. Rights under these various arrangements are not 
legal rights. They are merely privileges which employees enjoy only so 
long as they remain in the employment and observe the rules of the 
great industries for which they work. If they refuse to be weaned away 
from their independence they cannot continue to enjoy the benefits 
extended to them. 

When you have thought the whole thing out, therefore, you will find 
that the program of the new party legalizes monopolies and system¬ 
atically subordinates workingmen to them and to plans made by the 
government both with regard to employment and with regard to 
wages. Take the thing as a whole, and it looks strangely like economic 
mastery over the very fives and fortunes of those who do the daily 
work of the nation; and all this under the overwhelming power and 
sovereignty of the national government. What most of us are fighting 
for is to break up this very partnership between big business and the 
government. We call upon all intelligent men to bear witness that if 
this plan were consummated, the great employers and capitalists of the 
country would be under a more overpowering temptation than ever 
to take control of the government and keep it subservient to their 
purpose. 

What a prize it would be to capture I How unassailable would be the 
majesty and the tyranny of monopoly if it could thus get sanction of 
law and the authority of government! By what means^ except open 
revolt, could we ever break the crust of our life again and become free 
men, breathing an air of our own, living lives that we wrought out for 
ourselves? 

You cannot use monopoly in order to serve a free people. You cannot 

127 



use great combinations of capital to be pitiful and righteous when the 
consciences of great bodies of men are enlisted, not in the promotion of 
special privilege, but in the realization of human rights. When I read 
these beautiful portions of the program of the third party devoted to 
the uplift of mankind and see noble men and women attaching them¬ 
selves to that party in the hope that regulated monopoly may realize 
these dreams of h umanit y, I wonder whether they have really stud¬ 
ied the instruments through which they are going to do these things. 
The man who is leading the third party has not changed his point of 
view since he was President of the United States. I am not a siring - him 
to change it I am not saying that he has not a perfect right to retain it. 
But I do say that it is not surprising that a man who had the point of 
dew with regard to the government of this country which he had when 
he was President was not chosen as President again, and allowed to 
patent the present processes of industry and personally direct them 
how to treat the people of the United States. 

There has been a history of the human race, you know, and a history 
of government; it is recorded; and the kind of thing proposed has been 
tried again and again and has always led to the same result. History 
is strewn all along its course with the wrecks of governments that tried 
to be humane, tried to carry out humane programs through the in¬ 
strumentality of those who controlled the material fortunes of the rest 
of their fellow-citizens. 


I do not trust any promises of a change of temper on the part of 
monopoly. Monopoly never was conceived in the temper of tolerance 
Monopoly never was conceived with the purpose of general develop^ 
mem. It was conceived with the purpose of special advantage. Has 
monopoly been very benevolent to its employees? Have the trusts had 
a soft bean for the working people of America? Have you found trusts 
that cared whether women were sapped of their vitality or not? Have 
you found trusts who are very scrupulous about using children In their 
tender years? Have you found trusts that were keen to protect the 
bmgs and the health and the freedom of their employees? Have you 
ou trusts that thought as much of their men as they did of their 

128 


BENEVOLENCE, OR JUSTICE? 

machinery? Then who is going to convert these men into the chief 
instruments of justice and benevolence? 

If you will point me to the least promise of disinterestedness on the 
part of the masters of our lives, then I will conceive you some ray of 
hope; but only upon this hypothesis, only upon this conjecture: that 
the history of the world is going to be reversed, and that the men who 
have the power to oppress us will be kind to us, and will promote our 
interests, whether our interests jump with theirs or not. 

After you have made the partnership between monopoly and your 
government permanent, then I invite all the philanthropists in the 
United States to come and sit on the stage and go through the motions 
of finding out how they are going to get philanthropy out of their 
masters. 

I do not want to see the special interests of the United States take 
care of the workingmen, women, and children. I want to see justice, 
righteousness, fairness and humanity displayed in all the laws of the 
United States, and I do not want any power to intervene between the 
people and their government. Justice is what we want, not patronage 
and condescension and pitiful helpfulness. The trusts are our masters 
now, but I for one do not care to live in a country called free even 
under kind masters. I prefer to live under no masters at all. 

I agree that as a nation we are now about to undertake what may be 
regarded as the most difficult part of our governmental enterprises. We 
have gone along so far without very much assistance from our govern¬ 
ment. We have felt, and felt more and more in recent months, that 
the American people were at a certain disadvantage as compared with 
the people of other countries, because of what the governments of other 
countries were doing for them and our government omitting to do for 
us. 

It is perfectly clear to every man who has any vision of the Immedi¬ 
ate future, who can forecast any part of it from the indications of the 
present, that we are just upon the threshold of a time when the system¬ 
atic life of this country will be sustained, or at least supplemented, at 
every point by governmental activity. And we have now to determine 

129 


BENEVOLENCE, OR JUSTICE? 


what kind of governmental activity it shall be; whether, in the first 
place, it shall be direct from the government itself, or whether it shall 
be indirect, through instrumentalities which have already constituted 
themselves and which stand ready to supersede the government. 

I believe that the time has come when the governments of this 
country, both state and national, have to set the stage, and set it very 
minutely and carefully, for the doing of justice to men in every relation¬ 
ship of life. It has been free and easy with us so far; it has been go as 
you please; it has been every man look out for himself; and we have 
continued to assume, up to this year when every man is dealing, not 
with another man, in most cases, but with a body of men whom he has 
not seen, that the relationships of property are the same that they 
always were. We have great tasks before us, and we must enter on 
them as befits men charged with the responsibility of shaping a new 
era. 


We have a great program of governmental assistance ahead of us in 
the co-operative life of the nation; but we dare not enter upon that 
program until we have freed the government. That is the point. Benev¬ 
olence never developed a man or a nation. We do not want a benevo¬ 
lent government. We want a free and a just government. Every one of 
the great schemes of social uplift which are now so much debated by 
noHe people amongst us is based, when rightly conceived, upon justice, 
not upon benevolence. It is based upon the right of men to breathe 
pure an, to live; upon the right of women to bear children, and not to 
be overburdened so that disease and breakdown will come upon them; 
upon the nght of children to thrive and grow up and be strong; upon 
these fundamental tilings which appeal, indeed, to our hearts, but 
W t> C ,- ° ur Perceive to be part of the fundamental justice of life. 

Poaucs differs from philanthropy in this: that in philanthropy we 
sometime do things through pity merely, while in politics we act 
afeiys, rf we are righteous men, on grounds of justice and large ex- 

our fen* OT ^ maS& ' Sometiines “ our sympathy with 

Zit mr C W We ""V? *** ** m ° re jnrt. We must 
orgwe men . We must help men who have gone wrong. We must 

130 


BENEVOLENCE, OR JUSTICE? 

sometimes help men who have gone criminally wrong. But the law does 
not forgive. It is its duty to equalize conditions, to make the path of 
right the path of safety and advantage, to see that every man has a 
fair chance to live and to serve himself, to see that injustice and wrong 
are not wrought upon any. 

We ought not to permit passion to enter into our thoughts or our 
hearts in this great matter; we ought not to allow ourselves to be 
governed by resentment or any kind of evil feeling, but we ought, 
nevertheless, to realize the seriousness of our situation. That seriousness 
consists, singularly enough, not in the malevolence of the me n who 
preside over our industrial life, but in their genius and in their honest 
thi nkin g. These men believe that the prosperity of the United States 
is not safe unless it is in their keeping. If they were dishonest, we might 
put them out of business by law; since most of them are honest, we can 
put them out of business only by making it impossible for them to 
realize their genuine convictions. I am not afraid of a knave. I 
not afraid of a rascal. I am afraid of a strong man who is wrong, and 
whose wrong t h i nk ing can be impressed upon other persons by his own 
force of character and force of speech. If God had only arranged it 
that all the men who are wrong were rascals, we could put th*» m out of 
business very easily, because they would give themselves away sooner 
or later; but God has made our task heavier than that, —he ha<? made 
some good men who think wrong. We cannot fight them because they 
are bad, but because they are wrong. We must overcome them by a 
better force, the genial, the splendid, the permanent force of a better 
reason. 

The reason that America was set up was that she might be different 
from all the nations of the world in this: that the strong could not put 
the weak to the wall, that the strong could not prevent the weak from 
entering the race. America stands for opportunity. America stands for 
a free field and no favor. America stands for a government responsive 
to the interests of all. And until America recovers those ideals in 
practice, she will not have the right to hold her head high again 
amidst the nations as she used to hold it. 


BENEVOLENCE, OR JUSTICE? 

It is like coming out of a stifling cellar into the open where we can 
breathe again and see the free spaces of the heavens to turn away from 
such a doleful program of submission and dependence toward the 
other plan, the confident purpose for which the people have given 
their mandate. Our purpose is the restoration of freedom. We purpose 
to prevent private monopoly by law, to see to it that the methods by 
which monopolies have been built up are legally made impossible. We 
design that the limitations on private enterprise shall be removed, so 
that the next generation of youngsters, as they come along, will not 
have to become proteges of benevolent trusts, but will be free to go 
about making their own lives what they will; so that we shall taste 
again the full cup, not of charity, but of liberty,—the only wine that 
ever refreshed and renewed the spirit of a people. 


132 




The Way to Resume Is to Resume 


One of the wonderful things about America, to my mind, is 
this: that for more than a generation it has allowed itself to be governed 
by persons who were not invited to govern it. A sin gular thing about 
the people of the United States is their almost infinite patience, their 
willingness to stand quietly by and see things done which they have 
voted against and do not want done, and yet never lay the hand of dis¬ 
order upon any arrangement of government. 

There is hardly a part of the United States where men are 
not aware that secret private purposes and interests have been running 
the government. They have been running it through the agency of 
those interesting persons whom we call politicalbosses.” A boss is not 
so much a politician as the business agent in politics of the special 
interests. The boss is not a partisan; he is quite above politics! He has 
an understanding with the boss of the other party, so that, whether it 
is heads or tails, we lose. The two receive contributions from the same 
sources, and they spend those contributions for the same purposes. 

Bosses are men who have worked their way by secret methods 
to the place of power they occupy; men who were never elected to 
anything; men who were not asked by the people to conduct their 
government, and who are very much more powerful than if you had 
asked them, so long as you leave them where they are, behind closed 
doors, in secret conference. They are not politicians; they have no 

133 


THE WAY TO RESUME IS TO RESUME 


policies,—except concealed policies of private aggrandizement. A boss 
isn’t a leader of a party. Parties do not meet in back rooms; parties do 
not make arrangements which do not get into the newspapers. Parties, 
if you reckon them by voting strength, are great masses of men who, 
because they can’t vote any other ticket, vote the ticket that was pre¬ 
fared for them by the aforesaid arrangement in the aforesaid back 
room in accordance with the aforesaid understanding. A boss is the 
manipulator of a “machine.” A “machine” is tha t part of a political 
organization which has been taken out of the hands of the rank and 
file of the party, captured by half a dozen men. It is the part that has 
ceased to be political and has become an agency for the purposes of 
unscrupulous business. 

Do not lay up the sins of this kind of business to political organiza¬ 
tions. Organization is legitimate, is necessary, is even distinguished, 
when it lends itself to the carrying out of great causes. Only the mar, 
who uses organization to promote private purposes is a boss. Always 
distinguish between a political leader and a boss. I honor the man who 
makes the organization of a great party strong and thorough, in order 
to use it for public service. But he is not a boss. A boss is a mar, who 
uses this splendid, open force for secret purposes. 

One of the worst features of the boss system is this fact, that it works 
secretl}. I would a great deal rather live under a king whom I should 
at least know, than under a boss whom I don’t know. A boss is a much 
more formidable master than a king, because a king is an obvious 

master, whereas the hands of the boss are always where you least 
expect them to be. 


When I was in Oregon, not many months ago, I had some very 
lnierestiiig conversations with Mr. U’Ren, who is the father of what is 
called the Oregon System, a system by which he has put bosses out of 
usrness. He is a member of a group of public-spirited men who, 
whenever they cannot get what they want through the legislature, draw 


S * LT5R ^ Qre 8° n adopted the initiative, 

«ftn« «"«*** of the Oregon 

uk Oregon System a model for progressives in other states. 


*34 


the way to resume is to resume 

up a bill and submit it to the people, by means of the initiative, and 
generally get what they want. The day I arrived in Portland, a morn- 
ing paper happened to say, very ironically, that there were two legis¬ 
latures in Oregon, one at Salem, the state capital, and the other going 
around under the hat of Mr. TLPRen. I could not resist the temptation 
of saying, when I spoke that evening, that, while I was the last man to 
suggest that power should be concentrated in any single individual or 
group of individuals, I would, nevertheless, after my experience in 
New Jersey, rather have a legislature that went around under the hat 
of somebody in particular whom I knew I could find than a legislature 
that went around under God knows who 3 s hat; because then you could 
at least put your finger on your governing force; you would know where 
to find it. 

Why do we continue to permit these things? Isn’t it about time that 
we grew up and took charge of our own affairs? I am tired of being 
under age in politics. I don’t want to be associated with anybody 
except those who are politically over twenty-one. I don’t wish to sit 
down and let any man take care of me without my having at least a 
voice in it; and if he doesn’t listen to my advice, I am going to make it 
as unpleasant for him as I can. Not because my advice is necessarily 
good, but because no government is good in which every man doesn’t 
insist upon his advice being heard, at least, whether it is heeded or not. 

Some persons have said that representative government has proved 
too indirect and clumsy an instrument, and has broken down as a 
means of popular control. Others, looking a little deeper, have said 
that it was not representative government that .had broken down, but 
the effort to get it. They have pointed out that, with our present 
methods of machine no m i n a t ion and our present methods of election, 
which give us nothing more than a choice between one set of machine 
nominees and another, we do not get representative government at all, 

—at least not government representative of the people, but merely 
government representative of political managers who serve their own 
interests and the interests of those with whom they find it profitable to 
establish partnerships. 


*35 




THE WAY TO RESUME IS TO RESUME 


Obviously, this is something that goes to the root of the whole matter. 
Back of all reform lies the method of getting it. Back of the question, 
What do you want, lies the question,—the fundamental question of 
all government,—How are you going to get it? How are you going to 
get pubic savants who will obtain it for you? How are you going to 
get genuine representatives who will serve your interests, and not their 
own or the interests of some special group or body of your fellow- 
citizens whose power is of the few and not of the many? These are the 
queries which have drawn the attention of the whole country to the 
subject of the direct primary, the direct choice of their officials by 
the people, without the intervention of the nominating machine; to the 
subject of the direct election of United States Senators; and to the 
question of the initiative, referendum, and recall. 

The critical moment in the choosing of officials is that of their nomi¬ 
nation more often than that of their election. When two party organi¬ 
zations, nominally opposing each other but actually working in perfect 
inMlerstancIing and co-operation, see to it that both tickets have the 
same kind of men on them, it is Tweedledum or Tweedledee, so far 
as the people are concerned; the political managers have us coming 
and going. We may delude ourselves with the pleasing belief that we 
are dectrng our own officials, but of course the fact is we are merely 
m a k i n g an indifferent and ineffectual choice between two sets of men 
named by interests which are not ours. 

So that what we establish the direct primary for is this: to break up 
the made and selfish determination of the question who shall be 
elected to conduct the government and make the laws of our common¬ 
wealths and our nation. Everywhere the impression is growing stronger 
that there can be no means of dominating those who have dominated 
us except by t a kin g this process of the original selection of nominees 
into our own hands. Does that upset any ancient foundations? Is it not 
the most natural and simple thing in the world? You say that it does 
not always work; that the people are too busy or too lazy to bother 
about voting at primary elections? True, sometimes the people of a 

136 


THE WAY TO RESUME IS TO RESUME 


state or a community do let a direct primary go by without asserting 
their authority as against the bosses. The electorate of the United 
States is occasionally like the god Baal: it is sometimes on a journey 
or it is sometimes asleep; but when it does awake, it does not resemble 
the god Baal in the slightest degree. It is a great self-possessed power 
which effectually takes control of its own affairs. I am willing to wait. 
I am among those who believe so firmly in the essential doctrines of 
democracy that I am willing to wait on the convenience of this great 
sovereign, provided I know that he has got the instrument to do m i n a t e 
whenever he chooses to grasp it. 

Then there is another thing that the conservative people are con¬ 
cerned about: the direct election of United States Senators. I have seen 
some thoughtful men discuss that with a sort of shiver, as if to disturb 

the original constitution of the United States Senate was to do some¬ 
thing touched with impiety, touched with irreverence for the Constitu¬ 
tion itself. But the first thing necessary to reverence for the United 
States Senate is respect for United States Senators. I am not one of 
those who condemn the United State Senate as a body; for, no matter 
what has happened there, no matter how questionable the practices or 
fiow corrupt the influences which have filled some of the seats m that 
high body, it must in fairness be said that the majority in it has all the 
years through been untouched by s ta i n , and that there has always 
been there a sufficient number of men of integrity to vindicate the 
self-respect and the hopefulness of America with regard to her hisritit- 
tions. 

But you need not be told, and it would be painful to repeat to you, 
how seats have been bought in the Senate; and you know that a iitde 
group of Senators holding the balance of power has again and again 
been able to defeat programs of reform upon which the whole country 
had set its heart; and that whenever you analyzed the power that was 
behind those little groups you have found that it was not the power of 
public opinion, but some private influence, hardly to be discerned by 
superficial scrutiny, that had put those men there to do that tiling. 

Now, returning to the original principles upon which we profess to 

137 


the way to resume is to resume 

stand, have the people of the United States not the right to see to it 
that every seat in the Senate represents the unbought United States of 
America? Does the direct election of Senators touch anything except 
the private control of seats in the Senate? We remember another thing: 
that we have not been without our suspicions concerning some of the 
legislatures which elect Senators. Some of the suspicions which we 
entertained in Mew Jersey about them turned out to be founded upon 
very sold facte indeed. Until two years ago New Jersey had not in half 
a generation been represented in the United States Senate by the men 
who would have been chosen if the process of selecting them had been 
free and based upon the popular will. 

We are not to deceive ourselves by putting our heads into the sand 
and saying, “Everything is all right.” Mr. Gladstone declared that the 
American Constitution was the most perfect instrument ever devised 
by the brain of man. We have been praised all over the world for our 
angular genius for setting up successful institutions* but a very thought¬ 
ful Englishman* and a very witty one, said a very instructive thing 
about that: he said that to show that the American Constitution had 
worked well was no proof that it is an excellent constitution, because 
Americans could ran any constitution,—a compliment which we laid 
like sweet unction to our soul; and yet a criticism which ought to set 
us thinking. 

While it is true that when American forces are awake they can con¬ 
duct American processes without serious departure from the ideals of 
the Constitution, it is nevertheless true that we have had many shame¬ 
ful instances of practices which we can absolutely remove by the direct 
election of Senators by the people themselves. And therefore I, for one, 
will not allow any man who knows his history to say to me that I am 
acting inconsistently with either the spirit or the essential form of the 
American government in advocating the direct election of United 
States Senators. 

Take another matter. Take the matter erf the initiative and referen¬ 
dum. and the recall. There are communities, there are states in the 
Union, in which I am quite ready to admit that it is perhaps premature, 

138 



THE WAY TO RESUME IS TO RESUME 


that perhaps it will never be necessary, to discuss these measures. But 
I want to call your attention to the fact that they have been adopted 
to the general satisfaction in a number of states where the electorate 
had become convinced that they did not have representative govern¬ 
ment. 

Why do you suppose that in the United States, the place in all the 
world where the people were invited to control their own government, 
we should set up such an agitation as that for the initiative and refer¬ 
endum and the recall. When did this thing begin? I have been receiving 
circulars and documents from little societies of men all over the United 
States with regard to these matters, for the last twenty-five years. But 
the circulars for a long time kindled no fire. Men felt that they had 
representative government and they were content. But about ten or 
fifteen years ago the fire began to burn,—and it has been sweeping over 
wider and wider areas of the country, because of the growing con¬ 
sciousness that something intervenes between the people and the 
government, and that there must be some arm direct enough and 
strong enough to thrust aside the something that comes in the way. 

I believe that we are upon the eve of recovering some of the most 
important prerogatives of a free people, and that the initiative and 
referendum are playing a great part in that recovery. I met a man the 
other day who thought that the referendum was some kind of an animal, 
because it had a Latin name; and there are still people in this country 
who have to have it explained to them. But most of us know and are 
deeply interested. Why? Because we have felt that in too many instances 
our government did not represent us, and we have said: “We have got 
to have a key to the door of our own house. The initiative and refer¬ 
endum and the recall afford such a key to our own premises. If the 
people inside the house will run the place as we want it run, they may 
stay inside and we will keep the latchkeys in our pockets. If they do 
not, we shall have to re-enter upon possession.” 

Let no man be deceived by the cry that somebody is proposing to 
substitute direct legislation by the people, or the direct reference of 
laws passed in the legislature, to the vote of the people, for representa- 

139 


THE WAY TO RESUME IS TO RESUME 


five government. The advocates of these reforms have always declared, 
and declared in unmistakable terms, that they were intending to re¬ 
cover representative government, not supersede it; that the initiative 
and referendum would find no use in places where legislatures were 
really representative of the people whom they were elected to serve. 
The initiative is a means of seeing to it that measures which the people 
want shall be passed,—when legislatures defy or ignore public opinion. 
The referendum is a means of seeing to it that the unrepresentative 
measures which they do not want shall not be placed upon the statute 
book. 

When you come to the recall, the principle is that if an administrative 
officer,—for we will begin with the administrative officer,—is corrupt 
or so unwise as to be doing things that are likely to lead to all sorts of 
mischief, it will be possible by a deliberate process prescribed by the 
law 10 get rid of that officer before the end of his term. You must admit 
that it is a little inconvenient sometimes to have what has been called 
an astronomical system of government, in which you can’t change 
anything until there has been a certain number of revolutions of the 
seasons. In many of our oldest states the ordinary administrative term 
is a angle year. The people of these states have not been willing to 
trust an official out of their sight more than twelve months. Elections 
there are a sort of continuous performance, based on the idea of the 
constant touch of the hand of the people on their own affairs. That is 
exactly the principle of the recall. I don’t see how any man grounded in 
the traditions of American a ff airs can find any valid objection to the 
recall of a dminis trative officers. The meaning of the recall is merely 
this, -not that we should have unstable government, not that officials 
should not know how long their power might last,—but that we might 
have government exercised by officials who know whence their power 
came and that if they yield to private influences they will presently 
be displaced by public influences. 

You will of course understand that, both in the case of the initiative 
and referendum and in that of the recall, the very existence of these 
powers, the wry possibilities which they imply, are half—indeed, much 

140 


THE WAY TO RESUME IS TO RESUME 


more than half,—the battle. They rarely need to be actually exercised. 
The fact that the people may initiate keeps the members of the legis¬ 
lature awake to the necessity of initiating themselves; the fact that the 
people have the right to demand the submission of a legislative measure 
to popular vote renders the members of the legislature wary of bills that 
would not pass the people; the very possibility of being recalled puts 
the official on his best behavior. 

It is another matter when we come to the judiciary. I myself have 
never been in favor of the recall of judges. Not because some judges 
have not deserved to be recalled. That isn’t the point. The point is that 
the recall of judges is treating the symptom instead of the disease. The 
disease lies deeper, and sometimes it is very virulent and very danger¬ 
ous. There have been courts in the United States which were controlled 
by private interests. There have teen supreme courts in our states 
before which plain men could not get justice. There have teen corrupt 
judges; there have teen controlled judges; there have teen judges who 
acted as other men’s servants and not as the servants of the public. 
Ah, there are some shameful chapters in the story I The judicial process 
is the ultimate safeguard of the things that we must hold stable in this 
country. But suppose that that safeguard is corrupted; suppose that it 
does not guard my interests and yours, but guards merely the interests 
of a very small group of individuals; and, whenever your interest 
clashes with theirs, yours will have to give way, though you represent 
ninety per cent, of the citizens, and they only ten per cent. Then where 
is your safeguard? 

The just thought of the people must control the judiciary, as it 
controls every other instrument of government. But there are ways 
and ways of controlling it. If,—mark you, I say if,—at one time the 
Southern Pacific Railroad owned the supreme court of the State of 
California, would you remedy that situation by recalling the judges of 
the court? What good would that do, so long as the Southern Pacific 
Railroad could substitute others for them? You would not be cutting 
deep enough. Where you want to go is to the process by which those 
judges were selected. And when you get there, you will reach the moral 

141 



THE WAY TO RESUME IS TO RESUME 

of the whole of this discussion, because the moral of it all is that the 
people of the United States have suspected, until their suspicions have 
been justified by all sorts of substantial and unanswerable evidence, 
that, in place after place, at turning-points in the history of this 
country, we have been controlled by private understandings and not 
by the public interest; and that influences which were improper, if not 
corrupt, have determined everything from the making of laws to the 
administration of justice. The disease lies in the region where these men 
get their nominations; and if you can recover for the people the selecting 
of judges, you will not have to trouble about their recall. Selection is of 
more radical consequence than election. 

I am aware that those who advocate these measures which wc have 
been discussing are denounced as dangerous radicals. I am particularly 
interested to observe that the men who cry out most loudly against what 
they call radicalism are the men who find that their private game in 
politics is being spoiled. Who arc the arch-conservatives nowadays? 
Who are the men who utter the most fervid praise of the Constitution 
of the United States and the constitutions of the states? They are the 
gentlemen who used to get behind those documents to play hide-and- 
seek with the people whom they pretended to serve. They are the men 
who entrenched themselves in the laws which they misinterpreted and 
misused. If now they are afraid that “radicalism” will sweep them 
away,—and I believe it will,—they have only themselves to thank. 

Yet how absurd is the charge that we who are demanding that our 
government be made representative of the people and responsive to 
their demands,—how fictitious and hypocritical is the charge that we 
are attacking the fundamental principles of republican institutions! 
These very men who hysterically profess their alarm would declaim 
loudly enough on the Fourth of July of the Declaration of Independ¬ 
ence; they would go on and talk of those splendid utterances in our 
earliest state constitutions, which have been copied in all our later ones, 
taken from the Petition of Rights, or the Declaration of Rights, those 
great fundamental documents of the struggle for liberty in England; 

142 


THE WAY TO RESUME IS TO RESUME 


and yet in these very documents we read such uncompromising state¬ 
ments as this: that, when at any time the people of a commonwealth 
find that their government is not suitable to the circumstances of their 
Ives or the promotion of their liberties, it is their privilege to alter it at 
their pleasure, and alter it in any. degree. That is the foundation^ that 
is the very central doctrine, that is the ground principle, of American 
institutions. 

I want you to read a passage from the Virginia Ml of Rights, that 
immortal document which has been a model for declarations of liberty 
throughout the rest of the continent: 

That all power is vestal in, and consequently derived from, the people; 
that magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at ail times amenable 
to them. 

That government is, or ought to be. instituted for the common benefit^ 
protection, and security of the people, nation, or co mumnit y; of ail the 
various modes and forms of government, that Is the best which is capable 
of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety, and Is most effec¬ 
tually secured against the danger erf maladministration; and that, when 
any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, 
a majority of the community hath an indubitable, inalien a b le, and inde¬ 
feasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manne r as shall be 
judged most conducive to the public weal. 

I have heard that read a score of times on the Fourth of July, hut I 
never heard it read where actual measures were being debated. No 
man who understands the principles upon which this Republic was 
founded has the slightest dread of the gentle,—though very effective, 
—measures by which the people are again resuming control of their 
own affairs. 

Nor need any lover of liberty be anxious concerning the outcome of 
the struggle upon which we are now embarked. The victory is certain, 
and the battle is not going to be an especially sanguinary one. It is 
hardly going to be worth the name of a battle. Let me tell the story 
of the emancipation of one State, New Jersey. 

It has surprised the people of the United States to find New Jersey 

143 




THE WAY TO RESUME IS TO RESUME 


at tiie front in enterprises of reform. I, who have lived in New Jersey 
the greater part of my mature life, know that there is no state in the 
Union which, so far as the hearts and intelligence of its people are 
concerned, has more earnestly desired reform than has New Jersey. 
There are men who have been prominent in the affairs of the State who 
again and again advocated with all the earnestness that was in them 
the things that we have at last been able to do. There are men 
in New Jersey who have spent some of the best energies of their lives 
in trying to win elections in order to get the support of the citizens of 
New Jersey for programs of reform. 

The people had voted for such things very often before the autumn 
of 1910, but the interesting thing is that nothing had happened. They 
were demanding the benefit of remedial measures such as had been 
passed in every progressive state of the Union, measures which had 
proved not only that they did not upset the life of the communities to 
which they were applied but that they quickened every force and 
bettered every condition in those communities. But the people of New 
Jersey could not get them, and there had come upon them a certain 
pessimistic despair. I used to meet men who shrugged their shoulders 
and said: “What difference does it make how we vote? Nothing ever 
results from our votes. 55 The force that is behind the new party that 
has recently been formed, the so-called “Progressive Party, 55 is a force 
erf discontent with the old parties of the United States. It is the feeling 
that men have gone into blind alleys often enough, and that somehow 
there must be found an open road through which men may pass to 
some purpose. 

In the year 1910 there came a day when the people of New Jersey 
took heart to believe that something could be accomplished. I had no 
merit as a candidate for Governor, except that I said what I really 
thought, and the compliment that the people paid me was in believing 
that I meant what I said. Unless they had believed in the Governor 
whom they then elected, unless they had trusted him deeply and alto¬ 
gether, he could have done absolutely nothing. The force of the public 
men erf a nation lies in the faith and the backing of the people of the 

144 



THE WAY TO RESUME IS TO RESUME 

country, rather th a n in any gifts of their own. In proportion as you 
trust them, in proportion as you back them up, in proportion as you 
lend them your strength, are they strong. The things that have hap¬ 
pened in New Jersey since 1910 have happened because the seed was 
planted in this fine fertile soil of confidence, of trust, of renewal hope. 

The moment the forces in New Jersey that had resisted reform real¬ 
ized that the people were backing new men who meant what they had 
said, they realized that they dare no resist them. It was not the personal 
force of the new officials; it was the moral strength of their harking that 
accomplished the extraordinary result. 

And what was accomplished? Mere justice to dases that had not 
been treated justly before. 

Every schoolboy in the State of New Jersey, if he carol to look into 
the matter, could comprehend the fact that the laws applying to 
laboring-men with respect of compensation when they woe hist in 
their various employments had originated at a time when society was 
organized very differently from the way in which it is organiaBd now, 
and that because the law had not been changed, the courts were 
obliged to go blindly on administering laws which were cruelly un¬ 
suitable to existing conditions, so that it was practically impossible for 
the workingmen of New Jersey to get justice from the courts: the 
legislature of the commonwealth had not come to their as si sta nc e with 
the necessary legislation. Nobody seriously debated the circumstances; 
everybody knew that the law was antiquated and mposalate; every¬ 
body knew that justice waited to be done. V ery well, then, why wasu t 
it done? 

There was another thing that we wanted to do: We granted to regu¬ 
late our public service corporations so that we could get the proper 
service from them, and on reasonable terms. That had been dose 
elsewhere, and where it had been done it had proved just as much for 
the benefit of the corporations themselves as for the benefit ci xix 
people. Of course it was somewhat difficult to convince the corpora¬ 
tions. It happened that one of the men who knew the least about the 
subject was the president of the PubEc Service Cknrpcrafion of New 

145 






THE WAV TO RESUME IS TO RESUME 

Jersey. 2 I have heard speeches from that gentleman that exhibited a 
total lack of acquaintance with the circumstances of our times. I have 
never known ignorance so complete in its detail; and, I Hung a man of 
force and ignorance, he naturally set all his energy to resist the things 
that he did not comprehend. 

I am not interested in questioning the motives of men in such posi¬ 
tions. I am only sorry that they don’t know more. If they would only 
join the procession they would find themselves benefited by the health¬ 
ful exercise, which, for one thing, would renew within them the capac¬ 
ity to learn which I hope they possessed when they were younger. 
We were not trying to do anything novel in New Jersey in regulating 
the Public Service Corporation; we were simply trying to adopt there 
a tested measure of public justice. We adopted it. Has anybody gone 
bankrupt since? Does anybody now doubt that it was just as much for 
the benefit of the Public Service Corporation as for the people of the 
State? 

Then there was another thing that we modestly desired: We wanted 
fair elections; we did not want candidates to buy themselves into office. 
That seemed reasonable. So we adopted a law, unique in one particu¬ 
lar, namely: that if you bought an office, you didn’t get it. I admit that 
that is contrary to all commercial principles, but I think it is pretty 
good political doctrine. It is all very well to put a man in jail for 
buying an office, but it is very much better, besides putting him in jail, 
to show him that if he has paid out a single dollar for that office, he 
does not get it, though a huge majority voted for him. We reversed the 
laws of trade; when you buy something in politics in New Jersey, you 
do not get it. It seemed to us that that was the best way to discourage 
improper political argument. If your money does not produce the 
goods, then you are not tempted to spend your money. 

We adopted a Corrupt Practices Act, the reasonable foundation of 
which no man could question, and an Election Act, which every man 

^' ch - consc ^ativc Thomas N. McCarter not only headed this utility cor¬ 
poration but was also a power in the Republican Party in New Jersey. 

146 


THE WAY TO RESUME IS TO RESUME 

predicted was not going to work, but which did work,—to the emanci¬ 
pation of the voters of New Jersey. 

All these things are now commonplaces with us. We like the laws that 
we have passed, and no man ventures to suggest any material change 
in them. Why didn’t we get them long ago? What hindered us? Why, 
because we had a closed government; not an open government. It did 
not belong to us. It was managed by little groups of men whose names 
we knew, but whom somehow we didn’t seem able to dislodge. When 
we elected men pledged to dislodge them, they only went into partner¬ 
ship with them. Apparently what was necessary was to call in an ama¬ 
teur who knew so little about the game that he supposed that he was 
expected to do what he had promised to do. 

There are gentlemen who have criticized the Governor of New 
Jersey because he did not do certain things,—for instance, bring a lot 
of indictments. The Governor of New Jersey does not think it necessary 
to defend himself; but he would like to call attention to a very interest¬ 
ing thing that happened in his State: When the people had taken over 
control of the government, a curious change was wrought in the souls 
of a great many men; a sudden moral awakening took place, and we 
simply could not find culprits against whom to bring indictments; it 
was like a Sunday school, the way they obeyed the laws. 

So I say, there is nothing very difficult about resuming our own 
government. There is nothing to appall us when we make up our 
minds to set about the task. “The way to resume is to resume,” said 
Horace Greeley, once, when the country was frightened at a prospect 
which turned out to be not in the least frightful; it was at the moment 
of the resumption of specie payments for Treasury notes. The Treasury 
simply resumed,—there was not a ripple of danger or excitement when 

the day of resumption came around. 

It will be precisely so when the people resume control of their own 
government. The men who conduct the political machines are a small 
fraction of the party they pretend to represent, and the men who 

147 



THE WAY TO RESUME IS TO RESUME 


exorcise corrupt influences upon them are only a small fraction of the 
business men of the country. What we are banded together to fight is 
not a party, is not a great body of citizens; we have to fight only little 
coteries, groups of men here and there, a few men, who subsist by 
deceiving us and cannot subsist a moment after they cease to deceive 
us. 

I had occasion to test the power of such a group in the State of New 
Jersey, and I had the satisfaction of discovering that I had been right 
in supposing that they did not possess any power at all. It looked as if 
they were entrenched in a fortress; it looked as if the embrasures of the 
fortress showed the muzzles of guns; but, as I told my good fellow- 
ddzens, all they had to do was to press a little upon it and they would 
find that the fortress was a mere cardboard fabric; that it was a piece 
of stage property; that just so soon as the audience got ready to look 
behind the scenes they would learn that the army which had been 
marching and counter-marching in such terrifying array consisted of 
a angle company that had gone in one wing and around and out at 
tic; other wing, and could have thu s marched in procession for twenty- 
four hours. You only need about twenty-four men to do the trick. These 
men are impostors. They are powerful only in proportion as we are 
susceptible to absurd fear of them. Their capital is our ignorance and 
our credulity. 

To-day we are seeing something that some of us have waited all of 
our lives to see. We are witnessing a rising of the country. We are 
seeing a whole people stand up and decline any longer to be imposed 
upon. The day has come when men are saying to earh other: “It 
deem 3 ! make a peppercorn’s difference to me what party I have voted 
with. I am going to pick out the men I want and the policies I want, 
and lei the label take care erf itself. I do not find any great difference 
between my table of contents and the table of contents of those who 
have voted with the other party, and who, like me, are very much dis¬ 
satisfied with the way in which their party has rewarded their faithful¬ 
ness. They want the same things that I want, and I don’t know of 
anything under God’s heaven to prevent our getting together. We 

148 


THE WAY TO RESUME IS TO RESUME 

want the same things, we have the same faith in the old traditions of 
the American people, and we have made up our minds that we are 
going to have now at last the realty instead of the shadow.” 

We Americans have been too long satisfied with merely going 
through the motions of government. We have been having a mock 
game ; We have been going to the polls and saying: “This is the act of a 
sovereign people, but we won s t be the sovereign yet; we will postpone 
that; we will wait until another time. The managers are still shifting 
the scenes; we are not ready for the real thing yet.” 

My proposal is that we stop going through the mimic play; that we 
get out and translate the ideals of American politics into action; so 
that every man, when he goes to the polls on election day, wifi feel the 
thrill of executing an actual judgment, as he takes again into his own 
hands the great matters which have been too long left to mm depu¬ 
tized by their own choice, and seriously sets about carrying into accom¬ 
plishment his own purposes. 


*49 


11 


The Emancipation of Business 


In the readjustments that are about to be undertaken in this 
country not one single legitimate or honest arrangement is going to be 
disturbed; but every impediment to business is going to be removed, 
every illegitimate kind of control is going to be destroyed. Every man 
who wants an opportunity and has the energy to seize it, is going to be 
given a chance. All that we axe going to ask the gentlemen who now 
enjoy monopolistic advantages to do is to match their brains against 
the brains of those who will then compete with them. The brains, the 
energy, of the rest of us are to be set free to go into the game, that is 
all. There is to be a general release of the capital, the enterprise, of 
millions of people, a general opening of the doors of opportunity. With 
what a spring of determination, with what a shout of jubilance, will 

the people rise to their emancipation! 

I am one of those who believe that we have had such restric¬ 


tions upon the prosperity of this country that we have not yet come 
into our own, and that by removing those restrictions we shall set free 
an energy which in our generation has not been known. It is for that 
reason that I feel free to criticise with the utmost frankness these re¬ 
strictions, and the means by which they have been brought about. I 
do not criticise as one without hope; in describing conditions whiA so 
hamper, impede, and imprison, I am only describing con uons om 
which we are going to escape into a contrasting age. eve 


151 


THE EMANCIPATION OF BUSINESS 

is a time when there should be unqualified frankness. One of the dis¬ 
tressing circumstances of our day is this: I cannot tell you how many 
men of business* how many important men of business, have communi¬ 
cated their real opinions about the situation in the United States to me 
privately and confidentially. They are afraid of somebody. They are 
afraid to make their real opinions known publicly; they tell them to me 
behind their hand. That is very distressing. That means that we are 
not masters of our own opinions, except when we vote, and even then 
we are careful to vote very privately indeed. 

It is alarming that this should be the case. Why should any man in 
free America be afraid of any other man? Or why should any man 
fear competition,—competition either with his fellow-countrymen or 
with anybody else on earth? 

It is part of the indictment against the protective policy of the 
United States that it has weakened and not enhanced the vigor of our 
people. American manufacturers who know that they can m a k e better 
things than are made elsewhere in the world, that they can sell them 
cheaper in foreign markets than they are sold in these very markets of 
domestic manufacture, are afraid,—afraid to venture out into the 
great world on their own merits and their own skill. Think of it, a 
nation full of genius and yet paralyzed by timidity! The timidity of the 
business men of America is to me nothing less than amazing. They are 
tied to the apron strings of the government at Washington. They go 
about to seek favors. They say: “For pity’s sake, don’t expose us to the 
weather of the world; put some homelike cover over us. Protect us. 
See to it that foreign men don’t come in and match their brains with 
ours.” And, as if to enhance this peculiarity of ours, the strongest men 
amongst us get the biggest favors; the men of peculiar genius for 
organizing industries, the men who could run the industries of any 
country, are the men who are most strongly intrenched behind the 
highest rates in the schedules of the tariff. They are so timid morally, 
fmthermore, that they dare not stand up before the American people, 
but conceal these favors in the verbiage of the tariff schedule itself,— 
in “jokers.” Ah I but it is a bitter joke when men who seek favors are 

152 


THE EMANCIPATION OF BUSINESS 

SO afraid of the best judgment of their fellow-citizens that they dare not 
^•Vow what they take. 

Happily, the general revival of conscience in this country has not 
been confined to those who were consciously fighting special privilege. 
The awakening of conscience has extended to those who were enjoying 
special privileges, and I thank God that the business men of this 
country are beginning to see our economic organization in its true 
light, as a deadening aristocracy of privilege from which they them¬ 
selves must escape. The small men of this country are not deluded, and 
not all of the big business men of this country are deluded. Some men 
w bo have been led into wrong practices, who have been led into the 
pwractices of monopoly, because that seemed to be the drift and inevi¬ 
table method of supremacy, are just as ready as we are to turn about 
3xid adopt the process of freedom. For American hearts beat in a lot 
of these men, just as they beat under our jackets. They will be as glad 
to be free as we shall be to set them free. And then the splendid force 
•which has lent itself to things that hurt us will lend itself to things that 
fc>cnefit us. 

And we,—we who are not great captains of industry or business, 
shall do them more good than we do now, even in a material way. If 
•you have to be subservient, you are not even makin g the rich fellows 
as rich as they might be, because you are not adding your originative 
force to the extraordinary production of wealth in America. America 
5s as rich, not as Wall Street, not as the financial centres in Chicago and 
St. Louis and San Francisco; it is as rich as the people that make those 
centres rich. And if those people hesitate in their enterprise, cower in 
the face of power, hesitate to originate designs of their own, then the 
•very fountains which make these places abound in wealth are dried 
up at the source. By setting the little men of America free, you are not 

damaging the giants. b 

It may be that certain things will happen, for monopoly in this 

country is carrying a body of water such as men ought not to be asked 
to carry. When by regulated competition,—that is to say, fair compe¬ 
tition, competition that fights fair—they are put upon their mettle, 

153 



THE EMANCIPATION OF BUSINESS 


they will have to economize, and they cannot economize unless they 
get rid of that water. I do not know how to squeeze the water out, but 
they will get rid of it, if you will put them to the necessity. They will 
have to get rid of it, or those of us who don’t carry tanks will outrun 
them in the race. Put all the business of America upon the footing of 
economy and efficiency, and then let the race be to the strongest and 
the swiftest. 

Our program is a program of prosperity; a program of prosperity 
that is to be a little more pervasive than the present prosperity,—and 
pervasive prosperity is more fruitful than that which is narrow and 
restrictive. I congratulate the monopolies of the United States that they 
are not going to have their way, because, quite contrary to their own 
theory, the fact is that the people are wiser than they are. The people 
of the United States understand the United States as these gentlemen 
do not, and if they will only give us leave, we will not only make them 
rich, but we will make them happy. Because, then, their conscience 
will have less to carry. I have lived in a state that was owned by a 
series of corporations. They handed it about. It was at one time owned 
by the Pennsylvania Railroad; then it was owned by the Public Service 
Corporation. It was owned by the Public Service Corporation when I 
was admitted, and that corporation has been resentful ever since that 
I interfered with Its tenancy. But I really did not see any reason why the 
people should give up their own residence to so s mall a body of men 
to monopolize; and, therefore, when I asked them for their title deeds 
and they couldn’t produce them, and there was no court except the 
court of public opinion to resort to, they moved out. Now they eat out 
of our hands; and they are not losing flesh either. They are making just 
as much money as they made before, only they are making it in a 
more respectable way. They are making it without the constant assist¬ 
ance of the legislature of the State of New Jersey. They are making it 
in the normal way, by supplying the people of New Jersey with the 
service in the way of transportation and gas and water that they really 
need. I do not believe that there are any thoughtful officials of the 

154 



THE EMANCIPATION OF BUSINESS 

Public Service Corporation of New Jersey that now seriously regret 
the change that has come about. We liberated government in my 
state, and it is an interesting fact that we have not suffered one moment 
in prosperity. 

What we propose, therefore, in this program of freedom, is a pro¬ 
gram of general advantage. Almost every monopoly that has resisted 
dissolution has resisted the real interests of its own stockholders. 
Monopoly always checks development, weighs down natural pros¬ 
perity, pulls against natural advance. 

Take but such an everyday thing as a useful invention and the 
putting of it at the service of men. You know how prolific the American 
mind has been in invention; how much civilization has been advanced 
by the steamboat, the cotton-gin, the sewing-machine, the reaping- 
machine, the typewriter, the electric light, the telephone, the phono¬ 
graph. Do you know, have you had occasion to learn, that there is no 
hospitality for invention nowadays? There is no encouragement for you 
to set your wits at work to improve the telephone, or the camera, or 
some piece of machinery, or some mechanical process; you are not 
invited to find a shorter and cheaper way to make things or to perfect 
them, or to invent better things to take their place. There is too much 
money invested in old machinery; too much money has been spent 
advertising the old camera; the telephone plants, as they are, cost too 
much to permit their being superseded by something better. Wherever 
there is monopoly, not only is there no incentive to improve, but, 
improvement being costly in that it “scraps old machinery and de¬ 
stroys the value of old products, there is a positive motive against im¬ 
provement. The instinct of monopoly is against novelty, the tendency 
of monopoly is to keep in use the old thing, made in the old way; its 
disposition is to “standardize” everything. Standardization may be all 
very well,—but suppose everything had been standardized thirty years 
ag0) _ we should still be writing by hand, by gas-light, we should be 
without the inestimable aid of the telephone (sometimes, I admit, it is 

155 




THE EMANCIPATION OF BUSINESS 


a nuisance);, without the automobile, without wireless telegraphy. 
Personally, I could have managed to plod along without the aeroplane, 
ami 1 could have been happy even without moving-pictures. 

Of course, I am not saying that all Invention has been stopped by the 
growth of trusts, but I think it Is perfectly clear that invention In 
many fields has teen discouraged, that inventors have been prevented 
from reaping the £ul fruits of their ingenuity and industry, and that 
mankind has teen deprived of many comforts and conveniences, as 
well as of the opportunity of buying at lower prices. 

The damper put on the inventive genius of America by the trusts 
operates in half a dozen ways: The first thing discovered by the genius 
whose device extends into a field controlled by a trust is that he can’t 
get capital to make and market Ms invention. If you want money to 
bald your plant and advertise your product and employ your agent 
and make a market for it, where are you going to get it? The minute 
you apply for money or credit, this proposition is put to you by the 
banks: “Thisinvention will interfere with the established processes and 
the market control of certain great industries. We are already financing 
those industries, their securities are in our hands; we will consult them.” 

It may be, as a result of that consultation, you will be informed that 
it is too bad, but it will be impossible to “accomodate” you. It may be 
you will receive a suggestion that if you care to make certain arrange¬ 
ments with the trust, you will be permitted to manufacture. It may be 
you will receive an offer to buy your patent, the offer being a poor 
coB^laiion dole. It may be that your invention, even if purchased, 
will never be heard of again. 

That last method of dealing with an invention, by the way. Is a 
particularly vicious misuse of the patent laws, wMch ought not to 
alow property in an idea wMch is never intended to be realized. One 

of the reforms waiting to be undertaken is a revision of our patent 
laws. 

In any event, if the trust doesn’t want you to manufacture your 
mvtntIo% you will not be allowed to, unless you have money of your 

156 


THE EMANCIPATION OF BUSINESS 


own and are willing to risk it fighting the monopolistic trust with its 
vast resources. I am generalizing this statement, but I could particu¬ 
larize it. I could tell you instances where exactly that thing happened. 
By the combination of great industries, manufactured products are not 
only being standardized, but they are too often being kept at a single 
point of development and efficiency. The increase of the power to 
produce in proportion to the cost of production is not studied in 
America as it used to be studied, because if you don’t have to improve 
your processes in order to excel a competitor, if you are human you 
aren’t going to improve your processes; and if you can prevent the 
competitor from coming into the field, then you can at at your leisure, 
and, behind this wall of protection which prevents the brains of any 
foreigner competing with you, you can rest at your ease for a whole 
generation. 

Can any one who reflects on merely this attitude of the trusts toward 
invention fail to unders tan d how substantial, how actual, how great 
wifi be the effect of the release of the genius of our people to originate, 
improve, and perfect the instruments and circumstances of our lives? 
Who can say what patents now lying, unrealized, in secret drawers and 
pigeonholes, will come to fight, or what new inventions will astonish 
and bless us, when freedom is restored? 

Are you not eager for the time when the genius and initiative of all 
the people shall be called into the service of business? when new¬ 
comers with new ideas, new entries with new enthusksms, ^dependent 
men, shall be welcomed? when your sons shall be able to look farward 
to becoming, not employees, but heads of some small, it may Ire, but 
hopeful, business, where their best energies shall Ire inspired by the 
knowledge that they are their own masters, with the paths of the world 
open before them? Have you no desire to see the markets opened to all? 
to see credit available in due proportion to every man of character and 
serious purpose who can use it safely and to advantage? to see business 
disentangled from its unholy alliance with politics? to see raw material 
released from the control of monopolists, and transpartanon facilities 

157 



THE EMANCIPATION OF BUSINESS 


equalized for all? and every avenue of commercial and industrial 
activity leveled for the feet of all who would tread it? Surely, you must 
feel the inspiration of such a new dawn of liberty I 

There is the great policy of conservation, for example; and I do not 
conceive erf conservation in any narrow sense. There are forests to 
conserve, there are great water powers to conserve, there are mines 
whose wealth should be deemed exhaustible, not inexhaustible, and 
whose resources should be safeguarded and preserved for future gener¬ 
ations. But there is much more. There are the lives and energies of the 
people to be physically safeguarded. 

You know what has been the embarrassment of conservation. The 
federal government has not dared relax its hold, because, not bona fide 
settlers, not men bent upon the legitimate development of great states, 
hut men bent upon getting into their own exclusive control great 
mineral, forest, and water resources, have stood at the ear of the 
government and attempted to dictate its policy. And the government 
erf the United States has not dared relax its somewhat rigid policy 
because of the fear that these forces would be stronger than the forces 
of individual communities and of the public interest. What we are 
now in dread of is that this situation will be made permanent. Why is 
it that Alaska has lagged in her development? Why is it that there are 
great mountains erf coal pied up in the shipping places on the coast of 
Alaska which the government at Washington will not permit to be 
sold? It is because the government is not sure that it has followed all 
the intricate threads erf intrigue by which small bodies of men have 
tried to get exclusive control of the coal fields of Alaska. 1 The govern- 

1909-10, the nation had been shaken by the “Rallinger-Pinchot affair.” 
GMef Forester Gifford Pinchot supported charges that Taft’s Secretary of the 
Interim*, Richard Ballinger, was a foe of conservation because of his support of the 
C unn i n g ham , clai m a nt s.” The Cu nningham claims represented some 15 per cent 
of the rich Bering River coal fields in Alaska; they were held by Seattle businessmen 
who were acting' in collusion with a Morgan-Guggenheim syndicate. To the dismay 
of ardent comervatiomste, Taft ruled the charges groundless and fired the men 
who had made them. A year later, however, the General Land Office canceled the 
Cunningham claims. 


158 


ment stands itself suspicious of the forces by which it is surrounded. 

The trouble about conservation is that the government of the United 
States hasn't any policy at present. It is simply marking time. It is 
simply standing still. Reservation is not conservation. Simply to say, 
“We are not going to do anything about the forests,” when the country 
needs to use the forests, is not a practicable program at all. To say that 
the people of the great State of Washington can’t buy coal out of the 
Alaskan coal fields doesn’t settle the question. You have got to have 
that coal sooner or later. And if you are so afraid of the Guggenheims 
and all the rest of them that you can’t make up your mind what your 
policies are going to be about those coal fields, how long are we going 
to wait for the government to throw off its fear? There can’t be a work¬ 
ing program until there is a free government. The day when the 
government is free to set about a policy of positive conservation, as 
distinguished from mere negative reservation, will be an emancipation 
day of no small importance for the development of the country. 

But the question of conservation is a very much bigger question than 
the conservation of our natural resources; because in summing up our 
natural resources there is one great natural resource which underlies 
them all, and seems to underlie them so deeply that we sometimes 
overlook it. I mean the people themselves. 

What would our forests be worth without vigorous and intelligent 
men to make use of them? Why should we conserve our natural re¬ 
sources, unless we can by the magic of industry transmute them into 
the wealth of the world? What transmutes them into that wealth, if 
not the skill and the touch of the men who go daily to their toil and 
who constitute the great body of the American people? What I am 
interested in is having the government of the United States more con¬ 
cerned about human rights than about property rights. Property is 
an instrument of humanity; humanity isn’t an instrument of property 
And yet when you see some men riding their great industries as if 
they were driving a car of juggernaut, not looking to see what multi¬ 
tudes prostrate themselves before the car and lose their lives in tihe 
crushing effect of their industry, you wonder how long men are going 

159 




THE EMANCIPATION OF BUSINESS 


to be permitted to think more of their machinery than they think of 
their men. Did you never think of it,—men are cheap, and machinery 
is dear; many a superintendent is dismissed for overdriving a delicate 
machine, who wouldn’t be dismissed for overdriving an overtaxed man. 
You can discard your man and replace him; there are others ready to 
come into Ms place; but you can’t without great cost discard your 
machine and put a new one in its place. You are less apt, therefore, to 
look upon your men as the essential vital foundation part of your whole 
business. It is time that property, as compared with humanity, should 
take second place, not first place. We must see to it that there is no 
overcrowding, that there is no bad sanitation, that there is no un¬ 
necessary spread of avoidable diseases, that the purity of food is safe¬ 
guarded, that there is every precaution against accident, that women 
are not driven to impossible tasks, nor children permitted to spend 
their eneigy before it is fit to be spent. The hope and elasticity of the 
race must be preserved; men must be preserved according to their 
individual needs, and not according to the programs of industry merely. 
What is the use of having industry, if we perish in producing it? If we 
die in trying to feed ourselves, why should we eat? If we die trying to 
get a foothold in the crowd, why not let the crowd trample us sooner 
and be done with it? I tell you that there is beginning to beat in this 
nation a great pulse of irresistible sympathy wMch is going to transform 
the processes of government amongst us. The strength of America is 
proportioned only to the health, the energy, the hope, the elasticity, 
the buoyancy of the American people. 

Is not that the greatest thought that you can have of freedom,—the 
thought of it as a gift that shall release men and women from all that 
puls them back from being their best and from doing their best, that 
shall liberate their energy to its fullest limit, free their aspirations till 
no bounds confine them, and fill their spirits with the jubilance of 
realizable hope? 


160 



12 

The Liberation of a People’s Vital Energies 


No matter how often we think of it, the discovery of America 
must cadi time make a fresh appeal to our imaginations. For centuries, 
indeed from the beginning, the face of Europe had been turned toward 
the cast.. All the routes of trade, every impulse and energy, ran from 
west to cast. The Atlantic lay at the world’s back-door. Then, suddenly, 
the conquest of (lonstanlinople by the Turk closed the route to the 
Orient. Europe had either to face about or lack any outlet for her 
energies; the unknown sea at the west at last was ventured upon, and 
the earth learned that it was twice as big as it had thought. Columbus 
did not find, as he had expected, the civilization of Cathay; he found 
an empty continent. In that part of the world, upon that new-found 
half of the globe, mankind, late in its history, was thus afforded an 
opportunity to set up a new civilization; here it was strangely privileged 
to make a new human experiment. 

Never can that moment of unique opportunity fail to excite 
the emotion of all who consider its strangeness and richness; a thousand 
fanciful histories of the earth might be contrived without the imagina¬ 
tion daring to conceive such a romance as the hiding away of half the 
globe until the fulness of time had come for a new start in civilization. 
A mere sea captain’s ambition to trace a new trade route gave way to 
a moral adventure for humanity. The race was to found a new order 
here on this delectable land, which no man approached without re- 

161 




LIBERATION OF VITAL ENERGIES 


ceiving, as the old voyagers relate, you remember, sweet airs out of 
woods aflame with flowers and murmurous with the sound of pellucid 
waters. The hemisphere lay waiting to be touched with life,—life from 
the old centres of living, surely, but cleansed of defilement, and cured of 
weariness, so as to be fit for the virgin purity of a new bride. The whole 
thing springs into the imagination like a wonderful vision, an exquisite 
marvel which once only in all history could be vouchsafed. 

One other thing only compares with it; only one other thing 
touches the springs of emotion as does the picture of the ships of 
Columbus drawing near the bright shores,—and that is the thought 
of the choke in the throat of the immigrant of to-day as he gazes from 
the steerage deck at the land where he has been taught to believe he 
in Ms turn shall find an earthly paradise, where, a free man, he shall 
forget the heartaches of the old life, and enter into the fulfilment of the 
hope of the world. For has not every ship that has pointed her prow 
westward borne hither the hopes of generation after generation of the 
oppressed of other lands? How always have men’s hearts beat as they 
saw the coast of America rise to their view! How it has always seemed 
to them that the dweller there would at last be rid of kings, of privileged 
classes, and. of all those bonds which had kept men depressed and help¬ 
less, and would there realize the full fruition of his sense of honest 
manhood, would there be one of a great body of brothers, not seeking 
to defraud and deceive one another, but seeking to accomplish the 
general good! 

Wliat was in the writings of the men who founded America,—to 
serve the selfish interests of America? Do you find that in their writings? 
No; to serve the cause of hu mani ty, to bring liberty to mankind. They 
set up their standards here in America in the tenet of hope, as a beacon 
erf encouragement to all the nations of the world; and men came 
thronging to these shores with an expectancy that never existed before, 
with a confidence they never dared feel before, and found here for 
generations together a haven of peace, of opportunity, of equality. 

God send that in the complicated state of modern affairs we may 
wwwer the standards and repeat the achievements of that heroic age! 

I62 




L IB F, RATION OF VITAL ENERGIES 

For life is no longer the comparatively simple thing it was* Our re¬ 
lations one with another have been profoundly modified by the new 
agencies of rapid communication and transportation, tending swiftly 
to concentrate life, widen communities, fuse interests, and complicate 
all the processes of living. The individual is dizzily swept about in a 
thousand new whirlpools of activities* Tyranny has become more 
subtle, and lias learned to wear the guise of mere industry, and even 
of benevolence* Freedom has become a somewhat different matter. It 
cannot,—eternal principle that it is,—it cannot have altered, yet it 
shows itself in new aspects. Perhaps it is only revealing its deeper 
meaning. 

What is liberty? 

I have long had an image in my mind of what constitutes liberty. 
Suppose that I were building a great piece of powerful machinery, and 
suppose that I should so awkwardly and unskilfully assemble the parts 
of it that every time one part tried to move it would be interfered with 
by the others, and the whole thing would buckle up and be checked. 
Liberty for the several parts would consist in the best possible assem¬ 
bling and adjustment of them all, would it not? If you want the great 
piston of the engine to run with absolute freedom, give it absolutely 
perfect alignment and adjustment with the other parts of the machine, 
so that it is free, not because it is let alone or isolated, but because it 
has been associated most skilfully and carefully with the other parts of 
the great structure. 

What is liberty? You say of the locomotive that it runs free. What 
do you mean? You mean that its parts are so assembled and adjusted 
that friction is reduced to a minimum, and that it has perfect adjust¬ 
ment. We say of a boat skimming the water with light foot, “How free 
she runs,” when we mean, how perfectly she is adjusted to the force of 
the wind, how perfectly she obeys the great breath out of the heavens 
that fills her sails. Throw her head up into the wind and see how she 
will halt and stagger, how every sheet will shiver and her whole frame 
be shaken, how instantly she is “in irons,” in the expressive phrase of 

163 



LIBERATION OF VITAL ENERGIES 


the sea. She is free only when you have let her fall off again and have 
recovered once more ha* nice adjustment to the forces she must obey 

and cannot defy. 

Human freedom consists in perfect adjustments of human interests 
and human activities and human energies. 

Now, the adjustments necessary between individuals, between indi¬ 
viduals and the complex institutions amidst which they live, and 
between those institutions and the government, are infinitely more 
intricate to-day than ever before. No doubt this is a tiresome and 
roundabout way of saying the thing, yet perhaps it is worth while to 
get somewhat dearly in our minds what makes all the trouble to-day. 
Life has become complex; there are many more elements, more parts, 
to it than ever before. And, therefore, it is harder to keep everything 
adjusted—ami harder to find out where the trouble lies when the 
machine gets out of order. 

lou know that one of the interesting things that Mr. Jefferson said 
in these early days of simplicity which marked the beginnings of our 
government was that the best government consisted in as little govern¬ 
ing as possible. And there is still a sense in which that is true. It is still 
intolerable for the government to interfere with our individual activi¬ 
ties except where it is necessary to interfere with them in order to free 
them. Bat 1 fed confident that if Jefferson were living in our day he 
would see what we see: that the individual is caught in a great con¬ 
fused nexus of all sorts of complicated circumstances, and that to let 
Mm alone is to leave Mm hdpless as against the obstacles with which 
he has to contend; and that, therefore, law in our day must come to 
the assistance of the individual. It must come to his assistance to see 
that he gets fair play; that is all, but that is much. Without the watch¬ 
ful interference, the resolute interference, of the government, there can 
be no fair play between individuals and such powerful institutions as 
the trusts. Freedom to-day is something more than being let alone. 
The program of a government of freedom must in these days be posi¬ 
tive, not negative merely. 


164 



LIBERATION OF VITAL ENERGIES 


Well, then, in this new sense and meaning of it, are we preserving 
freedom in this land of ours, the hope of all the earth? 

Have we, inheritors of this continent and of the ideals to which the 
fathers consecrated it,—have we maintained them, realizing them, as 
each generation must, anew? Are we, in the consciousness that the life 
of man is pledged to higher levels here than elsewhere, striving still to 
bear aloft the standards of liberty and hope, or, disillusi oned and de¬ 
feated, are we feeling the disgrace of having had a free field in which 
to do new things and of not having done them? 

The answer must be, I ™ sure, that we have been in a fair way of 
failure,—tragic failure. And we stand in danger of utter failure yet 
except we fulfil speedily the determination we have reached, to deal 
with the new and subtle tyrannies according to their deserts. Dos t 
deceive yourselves for a moment as to the power of the great interests 
which now dominate our development. They are so great that it is 
almost an open question whether the gover nmen t of the United States 
can dominate them or not. Oo one step further, make their organized 
power permanent, and it may be too late to turn back. The roads 
diverge at the point where we stand. They stretch their vistas out to 
regions where they are very far separated from one another; at the 
end of one is the old tiresome scene of government tied up with special 
interests; and at the other shines the liberating light erf individual 
initiative, of individual liberty, of individual freedom, the light of un¬ 
trammeled enterprise. I believe that that light shines out of the heavens 
itself that God has created. I believe in human liberty as I believe m 
the wine of life. There is no salvation for men in the pitiful condescen¬ 
sions of industrial masters. Guardians have no place m a land of free¬ 
men. Prosperity guaranteed by trustees has no prospect of endurance. 
Monopoly means the atrophy of enterprise. If monopoly persists, 
monopoly will always sit at the helm of the government. I do not expect 
to see monopoly restrain itself. If there are men in this country big 
enough to own the government of the United States, they are gomg 
to own it; what we have to determine now is whether we are big 

165 


LIBERATION OF VITAL ENERGIES 


enough, whether we are men enough, whether we are free enough, to 
take possession again of the government which is our own. We haven’t 
had free access to it, our minds have not touched it by way of guidance, 
in half a generation, and now we are engaged in nothing less than the 
recovery of what was made with our own hands, and acts only by our 
delegated authority. 

I tell you, when you discuss the question of the tariffs and of the 
trusts, you are discussing the very lives of yourselves and your children. 
I believe that I am preaching the very cause of some of the gentlemen 
whom I am opposing when I preach the cause of free industry in the 
United States, for I think they are slowly girding the tree that bears 
the inestimable fruits of our life, and that if they are permitted to gird 
it entirely nature will take her revenge and the tree will die. 

I do not believe that America is securely great because she has great 
men in her now. America is great in proportion as she can make sure 
of having great men in the next generation. She is rich in her unborn 
children; rich, that is to say, if those unborn children see the sun in a 
day of opportunity, see the sun when they are free to exercise their 
energies as they will. If they open their eyes in a land where there is 
no special privilege, then we shall come into a new era of American 
greatness and American liberty; but if they open their eyes in a country 
where they must be employees or nothing, if they open their eyes in a 
land of merely regulated monopoly, where all the conditions of indus¬ 
try are determined by small groups of men, then they will see an 
America such as the founders of this Republic would have wept to 
think of. The only hope is in the release of the forces which philan¬ 
thropic trust presidents want to monopolize. Only the emancipation, 
the freeing and heartening of the vital energies of all the people will 
redeem is. In all that I may have to do in public affairs in the United 
States I am going to think of towns such as I have seen in Indiana, 
towns of the old American pattern, that own and operate their own 
industries, hopefully and happily. My thought is going to be bent 
upon the multiplication of towns of that kind and the prevention of 
the concentration of industry in this country in such a fashion and 

168 



LIBERATION OF VITAL ENERGIES 


upon such a scale that towns that own themselves will be impossible. 
You know what the vitality of America consists of. Its vitality does not 
lie in New York, nor in Chicago; it will not be sapped by anything that 
happens in St. Louis. The vitality of America lies in the brains, the 
energies, the enterprise of the people throughout the land; in the 
efficiency of their factories and in the richness of the fields that stretch 
beyond the borders of the town; in the wealth which they extract from 
nature and originate for themselves through the inventive genius char¬ 
acteristic of all free American communities. 

That is the wealth of America, and if America discourages the 
locality, the co mmuni ty, the self-contained town, she will kill the 
nation. A nation is as rich as her free communities; she is not as rich 
as her capital city or her metropolis. The amount of money in Wall 
Street is no indication of the wealth of the American people. That 
indication can be found only in the fertility of the American mind and 
the productivity of American industry everywhere throughout the 
United States. If America were not rich and fertile, there would be no 
money in Wall Street. If Americans were not vital and able to take 
care of themselves, the great money exc h a ng es would break down. 
The welfare, the very existence of the nation, rests at last upon the 
great of the people; its prosperity depends at last upon the spirit 
in which they go about their work in their several communities 
throughout the broad land. In proportion as her towns and her 
countrysides are happy and hopeful will America r e alize the high 
ambitions which have marked her in the eyes of all the world. 

The welfare, the happiness, the energy and spirit of the men ami 
women who do the daily work in our mines and factories, on our rail¬ 
roads, in our offices and ports of trade, on our farms and on the sea, is 
the underlying necessity of all prosperity. There can be nothing whole¬ 
some unless their life is wholesome; there can be no contentment 
unless they are contented. Their physical welfare affects the soundness 
of the whole nation. How would it suit the prosperity of the United 
States, how would it suit business, to have a people that went every 
day sadly or sullenly to their work? How would the future loci to you 

167 



LIBERATION OF VITAL ENERGIES 

if you felt that the aspiration had gone out of most men, the confidence 
of success, the hope that they might improve their condition? Do you 
not see that just so soon as the old self-confidence of America, just so 
soon as her old boasted advantage of individual liberty and oppor¬ 
tunity, is taken away, all the energy of her people begins to subside, to 
slacken, to grow loose and pulpy, without fibre, and men simply cast 
about to see that the day does not end disastrously with them? 

So we must put heart into the people by taking the heartlessness out 
of politics, business, and industry. We have got to make politics a thing 
in which an honest man can take his part with satisfaction because he 
knows that his opinion will count as much as the next man’s, and that 
the boss and the interests have been dethroned. Business we have got 
to im.t ram.me l, abolishing tariff favors, and railroad discrimination, 
and credit denials, and all forms of unjust handicaps against the little 
man. Industry we have got to humanize,—not through the trusts,— 
but through the direct action of law guaranteeing protection against 
dangers and compensation for injuries, guaranteeing sanitary condi¬ 
tions, proper hours, the right to organize, and all other things which 
the conscience of the country demands as the workingman’s right. 
We have got to cheer and inspirit our people with the sure prospects 
of social justice and due reward, with the vision of the open gates of 
opportunity for all. We have got to set the energy and the initiative 
of this great people absolutely free, so that the future of America will 
be greater than the past, so that the pride of America will grow with 
achievement, so that America will know as she advances from genera¬ 
tion to generation that each brood of her sons is greater and more en¬ 
lightened than that which preceded it, know that she is fulfilling the 
promise that she has made to mankind. 

Such is the vision of some of us who now come to assist in its realiza¬ 
tion. For we Democrats would not have endured this long burden of 
exile if we had not seen a vision. We could have traded; we could have 
got into the game; we could have surrendered and made terms; we 
could have played the rdle of patrons to the men who wanted to domi¬ 
nate the interests of the country,—and here and there gentlemen who 

168 


LIBERATION OF VITAL ENERGIES 


pretended to be of us did make those arrangements. They couldnft 
stand privation. You never can stand it unless you have within you 
some imperishable food upon which to sustain life and courage, the 
food of those visions of the spirit where a table is set before us laden 
with palatable fruits, the fruits of hope, the fruits of imagination, those 
invisible things of the spirit which are the only things upon which we 
can sustain ourselves through this weary world without faintin g. We 
have carried in our minds, after you had thought you had obscured 
and blurred them, the ideals of those men who first set their foot upon 
America, those little bands who came to make a foothold in the wilder¬ 
ness, because the great teeming nations that they had left behind them 
had forgotten what human liberty was, liberty of thought, liberty of 
religion, liberty of residence, liberty of action. 

Since their day the meaning of liberty has deepened. But it has not 
ceased to be a fundamental demand of the human spirit, a fundamental 
necessity for the life of the soul. And the day is at hand when it shall 
be realized on this consecrated soil,—a New Freedom,—a liberty 
widened and deepened to match the broadened life of man in modem 
America, restoring to him in very truth the control of Ms government, 
throwing wide all gates of lawful enterprise, unfettering Ms energies, 
and war min g the generous impulses of Ms heart,—a process of release, 
emancipation, and inspiration, full of a breath of life as sweet and 
wholesome as the airs that filled the sails of the caravels of Columbus 
and gave the promise and boast of magnificent Opportunity in wMch 
America dare not fmL 


169 


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